Language Educators

1.  second year - high school - curriculum

Posted 05-03-2013 13:36
Just curious, but would any French teachers at the secondary level please let me know if you teach the subjunctive and/or the passe simple?  We are revising our district's curriculum and are in a heated debate on which levels are most appropriate for these topics.  Thanks!

Sue Fry

2.  RE:second year - high school - curriculum

Posted 05-04-2013 07:44
In Ontario, Canada, the curriculum mandates that we teach the subjunctive in the 10th grade, but only after the expression "il faut que". It's always the first thing to go, however, if we run out of time. We revisit in the 12th grade, learning all of the irregular verbs and all of the expressions that require it. As for the passé simple, we teach that in the 11th grade, but the expectation is only that they recognize the tense/verb and the meaning. They aren't really expected to form/write it much or learn all of the forms of its irregulars. Hope that helps! ------------------------------------------ Jennifer Naiman -------------------------------------------

3.  RE:second year - high school - curriculum

Posted 05-05-2013 09:53
Speaking about textbooks, curriculum, themes... and "where to place and introduce them."

Here's an idea that I'd like to share and one that we have actually implemented with success where I have taught Spanish and French.

Usually in the USA, we teach the preterito and imperfecto/ passe compose/imparfait in 2nd year.

[Some first year teachers can introduce the preterite/pc in first year, but in most places where you are also stressing oral proficiency and student self-expression as opposed to grammar centered worksheets, you can't. It also depends on your school demographics.]

Traditionally, textbooks teach the preterito/passe compose first before the imperfecto/imparfait.  We have tried, with success, teaching the imperfecto/imparfait first.  The first past tense that you teach tends to become a student's "default" past tense in conversation.  The imperfect has less irregularities than the simple past of preterito/p.c.   Of course, more so in Spanish than in French.

Think about it:  weather, feelings, time on the clock.... are "imperfect" tense items.  
Kids can freely express anything in the imperfect w/o "hurting our ears" as teachers or native speakers.

Eran las dos.  Il etait deux heures.  
If you teach pret/pc first, you often hear:  Fueron las dos.  Il a ete deux heures.

Often you plan your activities around definite actions and have to avoid those "imperfect" topics.... or quickly smile and pass over what a student has said with the wrong tense hoping that it does not continue.

If a kid says:  Yo iba a la playa, ayer.  J'allais a la plage, hier.  
No harm is done, even if the kid is thinking a definite past action such as: Yo fui a la playa, ayer.  Je suis alle a la plage, hier.  No teacher's ears are being hurt.

When a text was going to introduce pret/pc.... we skipped it and went directly to the introductory imperfect chapter.  Usually the initial themes in an introductory imperfect chapter are:  Cuando yo era joven, yo hacia/era/iba....   Quand j'etais enfant, je faisais/etais/allais.....

After you finish that imperfect unit/theme, go back to the skipped pret/pc unit.  Teach it for "definite" actions.  (I call it una accion karate/ une action karate.)  Imperfect is a nice happy--you're telling me about stuff--preterite/pc is striking, definite, finished action!''  Imperfect is your default tense for talking and preterite adds excitement!

Usually, the unit after the imperfect is the unit teaching about the differences between the two past tenses.  You deal with those themes and structures, third.

Oh.... somewhere someone asked about the placement of subjunctive.... usually in public schools the USA, it occurs in third year, during the second semester.  These are schools where regular and college prep students are mixed together--unlike math or English.  Schools that restrict FL study to college prep students can move more quickly through curriculum.

I hope more colleagues will join in on the discussion.

Robert L. "Bobby" Oliver
Williamsburg, VA

4.  RE:second year - high school - curriculum

Posted 05-06-2013 09:32
I agree with Robert.  I also think that the future tense should be one of the first tenses taught.  It can be taught quickly and has few irregularities at least in Spanish.  It doesn't require the removal of the -ar, -er, or -ir infinitive endings, and conjugation requires learning only one set of verb endings that fit all three conjugation types.  For some reason, many textbooks present it last.

Lester Stone

5.  RE:second year - high school - curriculum

Posted 05-06-2013 15:29
You raise some great points and I'd like to start implementing imperfect before preterite. It makes so much sense!!

Gina Covello

6.  RE:second year - high school - curriculum

Posted 05-06-2013 19:14
One of my colleagues who is a native speaker from Spain said exactly the same thing about the preterite and the imperfect. The only time that causes a problem is if the students haven't learned the preterite well enough and they go to learn the imperfect subjunctive but that's a can that can be kicked down the road at least a little. Anyway my colleague feels that the imperfect is used most of the time anyway. ------------------------------------------- Kathryn Dwyer -------------------------------------------

7.  RE:second year - high school - curriculum

Posted 05-05-2013 11:52
Passé Simple taught for recognition and meaning for reading purposes only in level 3.  I used a kind of "reverse infinitive" technique.  Since secondary students are not literary writers, a more profound approach is not attempted at this level.

Subjunctive, of course, is a different game.  Introduced in the curriculum for application in level 3 and incorporated at each subsequent level ad infinitum for mastery.  

Alberta Norton

8.  RE:second year - high school - curriculum

Posted 05-06-2013 23:08
Oh.... another thing.  

Commands (Los mandatos) are a BIG, BIG deal in Spanish.  (Not so much in French, thankfully.)

Which would you prefer to teach FIRST, and have the students use FIRST?  

The present subjunctive first, then commands; or, teach commands first, then the present subjunctive.

[Of course, we're talking communication and proficiency in meaningful contexts--not merely a grammar-centered class.]

Where I taught Spanish and French, the five of us Spanish teachers could not decide.... so, we put the commands and present subjunctive in the same semester of instruction; thus allowing the teacher to have the freedom to decide.  

When I say "present subjunctive," I mean its formation--regular and irregular--and introducing querer que..... (volition, "polite commands or requests").

Quiero que me hables. [affirmative]
No quiero que me hables. [negative]

Quiero que me traigas algo de comer. [affirmative, irregular w/pronoun]
No quiero que me traigas nada. [negative, irregular w/pronoun]

Versus.... commands:
HAblame. [affirmative w/pronoun attached]
No me hables. [negative w/pronoun before verb form]

Dime la verdad. (affirmative irregular tu command with attached pronoun) 
No me digas esas mentiras! (negative irregular tu command with pronoun before)

Also, when I taught commands "formally," I taught them with commands.
Hablame, no me hables
tocame, no me toques

comela, no la comas  (pizza)

Informally, I always taught commands from the get go in Spanish I or French I.
escoge!  escogeme! escoge a Ramon!  "no me escojas! porque ya fui"  
pick!  pick me! Pick Ramon!  Don't pick me because I've gone, already!
(See, I also slipped in the "a personal" in context)

I look forward to seeing more discussion!  
Is there a certain "natural" progression for teaching certain things in a second language to "non-speakers?"


Robert L. "Bobby" Oliver
Williamsburg, VA