This year, I am teaching grade 9 French. In Canada, French is a required credit for only up to grade 9. As I have the open and applied classes, this means that I will be working with the students who do not want to go beyond. They “just want the credit”.
I will leave the discussion for some of the problems contributing to low motivation in French class for another day.
At this point, the start of the school year, I feel uncomfortably aware of a cavern in my chest. I want to make this subject relevant for my students because I know that language learning has multiple benefits. We often talk about how French increases employability and other motivators related to the practical reality of “finding a job” or “making money.”
Usually, teacher discussions about motivation in French are about lifelong learning and intrinsic motivation. I think it is hard to separate the two. In my experience, it is very difficult to motivate students to learn how to learn. Without seeing the practical and real-life benefits of their learning, they only see the tasks provided to them as a chore no matter how positive the associations between them and what they are doing.
I want to embrace the external motivation this year, actually, because I think the relevance will make the learning in our classroom relevant even if it is “just a French class”. If I can market my class as one where students will reflect on how to be more “employable” and somehow use French as an avenue to develop that particular characteristic, then I think I will be less uncomfortable with teaching the subject to reluctant learners from year to year.
I found this rubric (found by a teacher blogger) that looks at employability skills categorized into four areas: Guts, Resilience, Integrity, and Tenacity, otherwise known as GRIT.
I am excited to incorporate it but I’m not really sure how yet.