Technology takes French class to the next level – Myria Mallette, Canada

At first glance, using technology in French class may not seem like a natural fit. But for Myria Mallette, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEE) who has been teaching French for seven years, it’s the best way she knows to get students communicating and interacting in French with growing confidence.

“[Technology] provides engaging and personal experiences when it comes to learning new words and expressions needed in the target language,” says Mallette. “Students can work at their own pace, we can draw easily off of their interests, and they can easily work from home and share their progress with their parents.”

Mallette’s students have the opportunity to connect with real-world audiences via platforms such as Skype, Twitter or blogging. She has found that this gives relevance to students’ communication and helps them see the true purpose of learning a second language.

Beyond that, “It can increase student talk time during each class, like getting students to record themselves or conversations while working with partners or small groups,” says Mallette. “This in turn improves the feedback that we give our students, and that they give themselves and each other. Feedback is specific and timely. I can have the conversation in class, send the student a quick email, or response via our online classroom platform.”

And as with all MIEEs, Mallette is passionate about sharing her experiences with other educators. She has presented for the Ontario Modern Language Teachers’ Association Conference amongst others, and hosted a variety of workshops. Over the past year, Mallette has been coordinating a project on “Enhancing Teaching Practices in the Core French Classroom Through the Use of Technology,” and she looks forward to further exploring the use of Minecraft to enhance second language learning. Mallette is actively involved in Twitter, and works to share her interests as much as possible on her blog.

Here’s today’s Daily Edventure with Myria Mallette. Enjoy!

What inspired you to become an educator?

My mom teaches and I spent a lot of time in her classroom volunteering when I was home from university. Seeing her work with children was very inspirational. After playing competitive hockey, I knew I wanted to work with children as well. I would have loved to coach, however the job requires a lot of travel and is not conducive to having a family. I decided that teaching would offer me a similar opportunity, in that I would be able to work with kids and be able to coach extracurricular activities.

What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?

For me, I feel proudest to be an educator when I am very involved in the school. During this school year, every recess I play ball hockey with a big group of intermediate students. I coach after school. I know the students well and show a genuine interest in their activities outside of school.

Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?

Technology allows for students to create their own content (not just consume it) and in turn, it can be shared with these real audiences. It provides for choice as to how students demonstrate their understanding of learned concepts. For example, they could create a movie, a presentation, an oral presentation, a website, etc.

Technology reinforces the six Cs of 21st century learning as students learn to collaborate, think critically about the information being accessed, have the chance to be creative, and communicate in the target language (e.g., using Minecraft to build mazes in order to reinforce giving and understanding directions in French). I use technology on a daily basis with all of my classes and I am reminded of the impact every day.

Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?

One of the biggest challenges that needs to be overcome is the idea that change is scary. As educators, we need to be opened-minded to change and realize that things don’t always have to be done the same as they used to be in order to be effective.

The jobs that our students will be going into are very different than those of yesterday and even today – we need to prepare them for an ever-changing world. I believe that many of us are resistant to change because of the unknown. But, we as educators need to be willing to take risks if that’s what we expect our students to do.

We need to embrace that it is OK to be where we are, but we need to be challenging ourselves as educators on a day-to-day basis as to what we can do to improve our students’ learning experiences. Take one thing, try it, and we get more comfortable with that, then add in another new change. We cannot continue to do things the exact same way that they used to be done as the world around us continues to change so quickly.

In terms of education innovation, what are you most excited about for the future? What is your biggest hope for today’s students?

In terms of education innovation, I am most excited about the six Cs of education and 21st century learning skills. I feel that if students can learn these skills, they will be able to apply what they have learned to so many different situations. My biggest hope for today’s students is to be open-minded, ask questions, to challenge themselves and to believe that they can do anything they put their minds to!

Myria Mallette
French as a Second Language Teacher and Program Consultant

Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert
Lambton Kent District School Board

Chatham, Ontario, Canada
@mmem27

  • Blog URL: mmemallette.com
  • Birthplace: London, Ontario, Canada
  • Educational background: BA (International Relations: Global Security) – Brown University, BEd – University of Windsor
  • Website I check every day: Google/YouTube when I need to figure out how to do something that I don’t know how to do
  • Favorite childhood memory: Playing travel hockey.
  • Favorite book: Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
  • Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Minecraft
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? That I can do anything I put my mind to.
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