Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 16

Accepted Abstracts

World Languages in High School: The Freedom to Discover the World (A Practical Example in the French Class)

Elena Martí Alonso, American School of Valencia (Spain)


There is a general unanimity in the need to make learners demonstrate an intercultural communicative competence. Interculturality as a pedagogical approach aims to enable learners to get out of a unique vision of culture and to accept cultural plurality. In some way, the cultural proposals of the school programs often limit the real possibilities of language classes. Why not use the new language as a tool to discover and understand the world around us without further borders? Learning a new language includes the knowledge of the language system as a tool to communicate, but also the ability to express people’s cultural thoughts and beliefs. Therefore, it is also a way to understand how the speakers of the target language see the world and to open our minds. Planning the language lessons without limitations of cultural contents allows the students to discover, compare, analyze and reflect on a large variety of topics from a wider cultural context, to make connections between previous and new knowledge, to choose topics for research and at the same time, provides teachers and students with multiple possibilities for practice, assessment and specially for differentiation. The practical example proposed in this paper aims to demonstrate how a simple proverb in the French class (“La plume est plus forte que l'épée.”) becomes the conductive thread among multiple topics related to Art, Literature, History and real news, offers learning experiences in writing, listening, speaking and reading, interconnects contents of other subjects and increases substantially the student’s motivation. As a result, the vocabulary, the topics, the opportunities of reflection, comparison and interaction as well as the activities carried out by the students covering all areas of the language, become much more enriching and meaningful than limiting the contents to a series of topics. World languages represent the perfect tool to make connections and, linking the classes to real life makes students take an active part in learning that goes far beyond the language itself, offering them a better understanding of the world.

Keywords: cultural plurality, borders, perceptions, differentiation.

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