Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December Newsletter–went home this week

imageFirst of all, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year. The first part of the school year has gone by so fast and I am looking forward to seeing what 2013 brings. The kids have worked hard this year and are definitely ready for a refreshing, fun break. I look forward to seeing everyone again next year.

I am also pleased to let you know that we will be having a student teacher in the classroom this year. Madison Kelland comes to us from UVIC and she will be completing her final 8 week practicum in our classroom from February 6th to April 13th. During this time, she will be teaching some of the curriculum. She is very excited to be coming to our school and I look forward to working with Madison.

As promised, please find attached your son/daughter’s evaluation for the month of December. This month, the intermediate teachers have decided to evaluate and communicate with parents our student’s progress in their oral French abilities.

Attached you will find two evaluation tools. The first is entitled “Criteria’s for success”. This is the tool the students have been using throughout the school year to self-evaluate their own weekly progress in all-around learning, as well as their use of French in class. Although I haven’t asked the students to self-evaluate their achievements as of late, I am communicating my observations of your son/daughter’s social and learning behaviors for this month. The second evaluation tool is entitled “Multidimensional evaluation grid for oral communication competencies in a second language (L2)”.

This document was developed by the Canadian Association of Immersion Teachers. The Reference Framework for the Oral Communication Competencies of Second-Language Learners is based primarily on an extensive review of the literature on oral communication competencies in second-language learning, more particularly, learning French. It has also drawn largely from The Common European Framework of References for Language (CEFR), drafted by the Council of Europe. In addition, certain dimensions particular to immersion teaching and learning have been incorporated. Mastery of Reference Framework for the Oral Communication Competencies of Second-Language Learners second-language oral skills, also called oral communication competencies, is determined by six main parameters. They are frequently found in the literature, but they also arose from the consultations and group discussions held with teachers and pedagogical consultants from the five main Canadian regions. These parameters are: General communication skills, Vocabulary, Grammar and syntax, Presence of the first language (L1), Rhythm and intonation, and Pronunciation.

On the next pages is a description of 4 of the 5 levels. This is a general description for each level. You will see on your child’s evaluation that I have highlighted the level that your son/daughter has achieved on each parameter. Next, I calculated the total points per parameter and this determined their overall level. You will notice that each parameter is valued differently. This is because greater emphasis is placed on certain parameters. (ie. General communication skills are most important).

Level 1 - Beginner

· The learner uses few age-appropriate words or statements in the second language. They are generally clichĂ©s and are either isolated or inserted into sentences in his first language. The learner does not know the usage rules for grammatical suffixes to express plural, gender, verb tense, etc., or the lexical prefixes and suffixes to express opposition, repetition, negation, etc.

· Consequently, his vocabulary is very limited and concerns mainly day-to-day situations. However, the learner can occasionally use a few memorized fixed expressions (i.e. idioms). His output is characterized by many long pauses to look for words, to pronounce less familiar words, and to make up for evident communication deficiencies. He has difficulty marking sentences as affirmative, interrogative, exclamatory or imperative which limits effective communication. Usually he also has trouble combining sequences of sounds intelligibly in words and sentences. He makes many pronunciation errors and has a very limited grasp of grammatical forms and syntactic structures, which he uses in their written form.

· The learner that has progressed to Level 1 can sometimes ask and answer very simple questions, usually using calques (literal translations from his first language), on topics relating to his day-to-day life, as long as the speaker is willing to repeat and help him reformulate his sentences. However, because he apparently cannot use paraphrases for words that he does not know, he tends to stop producing or else continues in his first language (English or other) when he is at a loss to express his ideas. He frequently resorts to his first language, especially when communicating with peers. Generally, he replies to questions with either a one-word answer in the second language or else answers in his first language.

Level 2 – Basic

· The learner can formulate short messages that are appropriate for his age group. He can produce short sentences constructed of memorized expressions, some word combinations and common expressions. Occasionally, he can also use simple connectors (e.g., and, but, because), correctly mark sentence types, intelligibly pronounce sequences of sounds and use a few idioms.

· Despite a limited vocabulary, he manages to make himself understood in short conversations and simple day-to-day situations, while sometimes using paraphrases or substituting a more familiar message for another. However, effective communication is still hindered by poor use of grammatical suffixes and lexical prefixes and suffixes, frequent pauses, and regular pronunciation errors.

· The learner focuses much more on communicating his own ideas than on the form of the message or the listener’s understanding. He might ask and answer simple questions, but does not understand enough to be able to sustain a conversation on his own. He sometimes uses the second language and sometimes his first language to communicate with peers. Moreover, he regularly makes errors of literal (word-for-word) translation and transposition (e.g., applying L1 rules to L2). In addition, his sentence structures contain elementary errors, often carrying over structures from the first language, or else he uses the written form. The learner knows a few informal words, but sometimes uses them in inappropriate contexts.

Level 3 – Intermediate

· The learner can formulate complete, age-appropriate sentences on subjects such as family, recreation, etc. He can make himself understood in a number of oral situations, particularly by asking for help from others to find a word that he does not know, and by the effective use of paraphrases, different sentence types and diction. The most common grammatical suffixes and lexical prefixes and suffixes are used correctly, and the vocabulary is varied, albeit sometimes imprecise. Pauses are not as frequent, and they appear more in long, free production sentences. Pronunciation errors may persist, but do not hinder comprehension.

· The learner draws on a repertoire of frequent, common structures for use in predictable situations, as well as a variety of idioms. He can use some oral markers: negative truncation (e.g., won’t in place of will not), ellipsis (deliberate omission, or gapping), substitution of the interrogative for the declarative, etc., as well as common informal words in appropriate contexts. He can relate and combine a series of short, simple and separate elements. He can vary the expression of his thoughts in order to give feedback and contribute to a conversation. He can also start, sustain and close a simple conversation on a familiar subject, and demonstrate that he understands. Use of the first language is less prevalent. The learner can communicate with his peers in the second language, although he sometimes reverts to his first language.

Level 4 – Advanced

· The learner can formulate complete, age-appropriate sentences in order to clearly describe something, express an opinion, or develop an argument. He can make himself understood in most oral communication situations, notably through a very effective use of paraphrases and idioms, and sometimes through tonal register to express attitudes, states and feelings such as enthusiasm, disappointment, disapproval, etc. In addition, he can draw on a large number of grammatical suffixes and lexical prefixes and suffixes to correctly build new sentences. His vocabulary is generally varied and accurate.

· Communication is spontaneous, smooth, coherent and structured with connectors. Pauses are very rare, and generally short. Output is regular, and speech fluency is hampered only when tackling a difficult subject. Diction is clear, and pronunciation errors are rare and do not hinder comprehension of the message. Grammatical and syntactic errors are less frequent, and usually self-corrected by the learner. His contributions are adapted to the communication situation. They fit well into the conversation and are relevant. The learner can start, sustain, close and extend a conversation, while demonstrating good comprehension by picking up on the remarks of others, etc. He very rarely resorts to his first language. The learner can communicate with his peers entirely in the second language. He can use a large number of informal words and oral markers, and knows the appropriate usage contexts and levels.

Level 5 - Expert

· The learner can formulate complete, age-appropriate complex sentences and rephrase his thoughts in different terms. He can make himself understood in all age-appropriate oral communication situations, with practically unlimited self-expression. His vocabulary is varied and accurate, supported by the spontaneous and common use of idioms. He spontaneously uses all the grammatical suffixes and lexical prefixes and suffixes to produce correctly constructed new sentences.

· Pronunciation errors are barely noticeable, and his diction is clear and neutral. Speech is very fluent and rhythmic, with effective comprehension and production of tonal register, linking words and connectors, as well as non-verbal signals. Grammatical and syntactic errors are very rare, and self-correction is practically systematic, even when he is not paying attention. His contributions and conversations are sustained, spontaneous and unforced. The learner does not need to resort to his first language to communicate in any situations that may arise. He can communicate with his peers in the second language alone. He readily uses all the oral markers and informal words to adjust the formality of his discourse and effectively communicate intent.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.


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