Friday, November 08, 2013

FSL and Reading Level

What grade level are YOUR students reading at? I understand that FSL is French as a SECOND Language and that means that students, even after 7 years of "immersion" (or what really amounts to XX hours of instruction en français per day/week/year/total) but I was pretty flabbergasted last year when it was such a struggle to get my students to read anything that was beyond a grade 2 level, with lots of pictures.

I took this photo over the summer when visiting a local book store, because it struck me that this was the series that was most "coveted" amongst my students, and as I've never really taught primary myself, I didn't realize just how low-level this popular character was.

The most discouraging part was that my students included a lot of very avid readers, but that excitement just didn't extend to reading in their second language.  I'm talking about material ranging from pretty intense fantasy, the typical teen lit, to definitely more adult literature (such as Room, and the Game of Thrones series).  It was seriously depressing for me to realize that my students just had no interest in building their fluency in their second language, and to see them walk into class with an English novel an inch or so think, and a teeny tiny 30 page "chapter book" in French.

In late September this year, I asked a student if I could take a photo of her book choices when I saw this:

This student did let me know that she'd already read The Lightening Thief in English, but we agreed that it would be an acceptable choice this once as she focused on some vocabulary development, and practising reading strategies in general. 

A very trusted and respected colleague has reminded me a couple of times to visit La Courte échelle for some good age-appropriate selections that are original francophone works. I would love for you to leave a comment with your favourite intermediate French novel. Feel free to link to a blog post as well, if you've already shared that information in a post yourself.




2 comments:

  1. I have really struggled to get my students to read French novels in my grade 7 FI class. Part of the problem I think is the lack of high interest novels at the right level for FSL students. The novels are either at the right level of comprehension but too immature or they're too difficult and high interest. Last year, we experimented with Orca books. I was a little hesitant at first since they are books translated from English and I'd prefer to use original francophone texts but find that they are often quite challenging and result in student frustration. But, the Orca books are very high interest and this seemed to motivate my students to read them. Attempted murder and the threat of death seem to be quite motivating topics. The books that were the most interesting from the Orca book series are "En images", "Cochonnet", "les Casses-cous" and "Marqué". The students still required a lot of support with challenging vocabulary so this year I constructed very extensive vocabulary lists for each book with the hope that this will better support students.
    I also enjoyed the book "La plus grosse poutine du monde" by Andrée Poulin http://www.livresouverts.qc.ca/index.php?p=il&lo=47616.

    Thanks for your blog posts. I enjoy learning from your experiences.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Andrea,

      That's very sweet of you to say. :-) I too have had some success with the Orca books, but have the same reservations you do about using only works translated from English (and therefore available to just read in English).

      I haven't read La plus grosse poutine yet, but you're the second person to recommend it, and I do like some other books in that series.

      Tammy

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