C’est fini pour moi? Non, c’est juste commence pour moi

What a semester!

I can certainly say it has had it’s ups and downs, and I have definitely done a lot of learning and growing.

In the beginning 

It had been a while since I had used the small amount of French that I had learned in my core French program.  My language knowledge was very ‘egocentric’ as almost all of my sentences were pieces of information about me.

The how

I spent some time evaluating and discussing apps with fellow classmates who were also working to learn languages.

 

Duolingo logo
via wikimedia commons
Duolingo was a front runner almost immediately.  It had several positives that came up:  it was free, it has the ability to set a daily goal, placement testing,  it was named as a top language learning app in several reviews, my classmates were finding similar results in their searches – and lastly, in speaking with friends who know other languages, they recommended Duolingo!

After determining all of these factors, Duolingo became my go to for language learning with my 50XP goal set!  The first few weeks were really positive, with lots of vocabulary learning, and reaching my daily goal consistently.

I supplemented my learning by trying to have conversations in French with friends who speak the language, and I also turned to French radio as a supplementary technology piece.

Adding read-alouds in French also seemed like a beneficial idea, so I began practicing and recording myself reading french picture books, and then I started to expand on the platforms I was using to learn French, enter Mango.

Through my public library, I was able to gain access to Mango for free, and saw the conversational benefits to learning  in this new format.  (Sometimes Duolingo has sentences that come across as weird  or inappropriate, where as Mango allows you to practice and build upon sentences that you may use in different contexts).

Around this time, I was also searching for some ‘native speaker’ support, and tried to utilize some connections I had made on Twitter via Speaky.  This unfortunately felt reminiscent of a dating website and somewhat soured me on that avenue of my learning.  All was not lost however, as I connected with @frenchetc and there were many ‘mini’ lessons I was able to complete and consider thanks to their tweets!

Additionally, after having one of my language learning blogs retweeted, I was also able to make a connection and have an offer of help!

One of the places I experienced the most growth was thanks to my PLN of classmates.  There were so many of us learning languages (albeit different ones) and the ability to discuss where we were experiencing success and challenges was really helpful in adapting my own plan, as well as experiencing new things.  The biggest challenge of the semester happened when Genna had us in awe with her Spanish rendition of “Let it Go” and Vanessa was quick to challenge the rest of the ‘language learners’ to do the same.  It was a long hard week of practicing, but I managed to squeak out the French version of “Parti la bas”

The end?

I have to say that I had lofty goals of becoming ‘fluent’ by the time this class was over… well, that just did not happen!  However, I am well on my way, and I will continue to work on my Duolingo and Mango lessons daily.  As my title implies, this is not the end of learning french for me- my family and I will be heading to Europe this summer, and I am challenging myself to ‘function’ en francais while we are there!

A bientot mes amis!  Vous voir sur Twitter.

 

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The final post- my summary of learning 

It’s been a great semester.  I’ve learned a lot about using technology, as well as teaching with technology and educating students about technology.

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CC0 via pixabay

 

One of the most profound things I learned this semester was that I don’t necessarily have to show students how to use the internet (I suspect a large percentage could probably ‘school’ me in many areas of social media etc).  However, as an educator, I need to teach from a space that helps my students to become critical of the things they are interacting with on the internet.

For more reflections on my learning this semester, please see my Bunkr presentation below:

http://bunkrapp.com/present/9daefg/?utm_medium=share

 

 

C’est un semaine pauvre

I really thought I would get further along this week than I have (to this point).  Truth be told I spent a lot of time with my extended family at the start of the break, and I have now spent the majority of the second half with my children (also, managed to get some time to work on my summary of learning).

That being said, I managed to keep up with or surpass my Duolingo goals this week!  I have been struggling to ‘maintain’ full strength on each unit everyday.  Even with surpassing my goals most days, there have been bars that I have not ‘filled’  which is somewhat discouraging.

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In addition to this, my fluency has once again stagnated seemingly regardless of how much I am doing or how accurate I am (there have been no 200 question lessons as there was when I started).

I have found myself inconsistently in my vehicle this week, so while I was listening to (and understanding!) it sometimes – it certainly was not as much or as often as I would have liked!  So, to combat missing my ‘driving time french’ I will supplement with a french show/song that I can listen to/decode/ (and maybe even sing along with)!

*As an aside if you read the comments on her video – I have opted to replace “Hello” with “Allo” as it seems more acceptable, I believe that “Salut” would also work in its place.  Alas, this was practice for me, there will be no video of me singing Sarah’s cover of Adele this week!

 

On a positive note, I got onto Mango again this week!  I got through a couple of lessons, and it was one space I felt successful in this week.  As Elizabeth mentioned in her blog this week, Mango was really helpful in building the sentences and making sense of the tenses (although it does take a lot of time, to get to that point).  Another item to note is that taking a placement test isn’t really helpful to skip ahead as you miss some of the important pieces of conjugation and tenses.  Also,  I enjoyed some of the cultural notes that were incorporated into the lessons:

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I will definitely keep this in mind in July!

This note was of special importance to me, and I will be sure to watch for “Soldes” signs!

I have not been as successful as some of my classmates in finding language specific resources on Twitter, but one thing that has been helpful to me is @frenchetc on Twitter, they tweet many different phrases and how they are used with practice pieces.  I am enjoying the ‘pop up mini french lessons’ when they show up in my feed.  For example today I learned about being stuck in traffic:

For the week ahead, I am going to work to spend more of my learning time on Mango, and just maintain my goal of 50xp per day on Duolingo.  I also plan to continue listening to French radio, as I find listening to the language in a conversational context very helpful.  I will also be seeking out additional french conversations this week.  Lastly, I am going to practice 1-2 read aloud books this week as well!

 

 

Click this, support that…am I a slacktivist?

There is a difference between a slacktivist and using ones own privilege to speak out against social injustices- isn’t there?

Slacktivism is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as: Actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website or application:such email alerts make slacktivism easy

Social Justice is defined by the Business Dictionary as: The fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice.

Clearly, the definition of Social Justice is falling short of answering my question, as it lacks the piece about ‘creating the change’.  So, I went to the antonym of slacktivism, and looked up the definition of activism:

“The policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change

I’m going to come back to this.

Does wearing ‘red’ on day ‘x’ mean that I more supportive of one cause than another? Does tweeting or sharing certain information mean I’m more passionate about one cause than another?  There are countless important things in this world, and there are many worthwhile causes – I think it is up to each individual to determine where their passion lies.

A slacktivist is someone who believes it is more important to be seen to help than to actually help. –Scott Gilmore

There is a difference between the definition of ‘slacktivism’ and what Scott Gilmore portrays as a ‘slacktivist’.  While my argument is not that slacktivism is ‘difficult’, I certainly don’t believe that it is done for “show”.

Because of Twitter and YouTube, the habit of doing nothing, and doing it often, has become a defining element of our culture. –Scott  Gilmore 

Like it or not, the internet is here to stay.  It has become an imperative piece in our society -and there is power and privilege that comes with using the internet (and social media).  When Scott Gilmore deems Twitter and YouTube as “doing nothing, and doing it often” I beg to differ.  I’d ask you to tell Justine Sacco, Alex from Target , Damn Daniel, (to name a few) that social media is “doing nothing”.  I’m sure they would have vastly different accounts.

Getting back to the definition of activist and the ‘action’ piece.  Somehow we (society) has gotten to a point that wearing a coloured shirt or that sharing a hashtag is in fact taking a stand, and I don’t think that is a bad thing.  It means people are talking about injustices, it means that they are using their platform and privilege to express to others that “cause X” is important.

This week alone, I signed and shared an online petition that supports #decolonization #reconciliation and the #TRC in my city. Guess what?  It worked.  That’s #progress and #action – it’s not “doing nothing” online.

A recent study published in the research journal PLOS ONE found that online engagement is key to turning a protest into a social movement and in prolonging its lifespan. –Kate Groetzinger

While I think this research is promising, I am wary of being a ‘self-promoter’ and not a true supporter.

After watching this video, I feel that it’s really important to evaluate the tweets and FB posts that I am sharing.  Truth be told, I don’t think I share many ‘charitable’ tweets etc, unless I’m supporting it (read: donating/participating in).  I’m not sure how/why I would expect someone else to stand up for an organization if I am not doing it myself.

That being said, the following video speaks to the more positive side of being a ‘slacktivist’, this is the definition that aligns more with how I see sharing causes online.

My question when I started this post was… am I a slacktivist?

Do I raise awareness via Social Media?  Do I use my privilege and platform to engage in discussion and knowledge sharing?

Do I take ‘action’ by participating in?  Do I make donations?  Do I volunteer my time?

I’m still unsure about labeling myself as a ‘slacktivist’, there are positive and negative connotations that come with the term, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with all of them yet.  For now, by definition, I will call myself an activist – who uses an online platform to help spread awareness.

Je parler francais aujourd’hui!

Cette semaine était médiocre.

I tried to follow the same plan that I worked with last week – but apparently life has been different this week, and that must be the prevailing factor!

I had a 14 day streak going with Duolingo (until last night) when my eyes wouldn’t stay open beyond the second lesson… this is what happens when my father-in-law comes to visit, and you get to enjoy an authentic curry chicken meal!

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Yes, this picture is sideways – but it was yummy!

I digress.  I have been listening to French radio consistently.  I had several french conversations this week.  I read french stories again this week (video below).  I was not able to spend any time on mango this week (although there is still a chance I will get on it today).

I’ve noticed with Duolingo that while I pushed myself to get through several new ‘units’ of words last week, my ‘learned’ units are not maintaining their strength for very long, so even if I go beyond my 5 lessons a day there are still units which require ‘practice’.  This becomes a point of frustration for me, as I feel less successful when there is ‘uncompleted’ work.  I think this would be the reason for me not getting to Mango for the week – as I am more inclined to ‘finish’ the units then to move on to Mango when there is still work to do on Duolingo.  For me- this is what makes Duolingo a great learning tool.  As long as you are a motivated learner (and someone like me who tends to be one of those perfectionist ‘I need to finish my work’) kind of people, the app  does a great job of ‘drawing you in’ on a daily basis (which is what research will tell you is required to effectively learn a language).

I still have not ‘increased’ my fluency from 45%, which really has me questioning what the algorithm requires.  Perhaps I am consistently getting less answers correct than I perceive!

Regardless of what percentage I’m at – I have noticed an increase in what I am able to de-code and since the ‘singing’ fiasco of last week, I have been taking more chances in the french phrases I am speaking!  For example, this week I created my title completely on my own, without the help of Google Translate (I did double check the spelling of aujourd’hui), I also did the first sentence (This week was mediocre) on my own (I did have to look up ‘was’).   Lastly, I understood a large percentage of the read-aloud book I read for the week (and it’s not as familiar to me as the previous read-alouds I’ve completed)!

 

 

I see progress in myself, so I am going to keep up with the same plan I’ve had for the last few weeks (50xp goal in Duolingo, French conversations, french radio, french books, and I WILL get on to Mango more consistently over the next week!)

So, until next week…

Merci mes amis, a bientot!

The evolved gender divide of 2016

While a bit dated, there has been research done for many years on the disparities in society between women and men.  It has evolved as society has, from the blatant relegation to the home sphere, the historical disparity in wages,  the passive aggressive forms of ‘normative’ inequality displayed through television shows and advertisements, to the current disparity in wages.  Now, the newest space to perpetuate this inequality seems to be in the online sphere.

 Harassment of women online is at risk of becoming “an established norm in our digital society”, with women under 30 particularly vulnerable, according to the creators of a new Australian study (via Ellen Hunt, the Guardian)

How is this possible, given the long standing work of feminism?  How can society continue to perpetuate the inequalities against women (among other groups who fall outside of the ‘norm’)?  Why, when work is being done in the ‘real’ world to combat inequalities- are we seeing an insurgence of ‘male dominance’ online?

The fact that anyone in our society is seen as ‘less than’ anyone else is something that bothers me deeply.  Beyond being ‘seen’ as less than, is what is seen as acceptable forms of behaviour in an online space.  While it is “no longer” acceptable for women to be demeaned to their faces, online forums- as Jannae also discusses, especially those that come with the premise of anonymity seem to breed malicious, slut-shaming comments that are accepted and in some cases, touted.

As a woman, mother, and a teacher – there are many ways I grapple with this.

I am woman

“I am smart, I am strong, caring, organized, beautiful – and I can do it all and I can have it all!”

That’s the NeoLiberal perception that many have inevitably subscribed to- and women work hard to get through it all, balance it all, and do it all, without ‘needing’ anyone’s help.

This is often seen as the ‘acceptable’ form of how to perform a ‘successful’ woman.

Academically successful girls, Harris (2004) notes, are offered up as evidence that structural constraints are no longer relevant within educational debates. Smart girls are girls who ‘can-do’ anything and be anything they want. They have the ability to pull themselves – and their grades – up by their bootstraps; but the corollary is that if girls fail to succeed, it is their fault alone. (Pomerantz and Rabi)

How do I use my knowledge of the ‘norms’ of a ‘new age’ woman, to fight against the inequalities that are surfacing in the online realm?

I am a Mother

How do the inequalities that exist, affect my children?  It affects them both, even though they are not both female.  How do the norms I enact form their perceptions?  What am I doing to empower women, and what am I doing to perpetuate the norms?

I know that how I raise my children is probably one of the most impactful ways that I can make a difference in in the perceptions of women, (and inequality in general).  That requires ‘swimming upstream’ against media, advertisements, societal norms, and now, the online stratosphere (should be relatively easy, I’m sure).

 I am a Teacher

As a teacher, there are many things I can do to help my students understand appropriate online behaviours.  Raquel Bellefleur offers a comprehensive list for teachers to fight the slut-shaming phenomenon.

Ensuring students have the background knowledge to appropriately navigate themselves in online spaces, is imperative.  How do we teach about the ‘dark’ side of the internet (read: trolls and slut-shaming, etc) without intriguing students to find/try these spaces out?  Where is the line between what I need to share, and what parents need to have discussions about?  How can I best work to help include parents in this learning?

 

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CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay 

I don’t think it’s impossible, but there are many questions that need some careful consideration to appropriately help children to learn about these things in appropriate ways.

 

 

 

Ma semaine en francais

Why did I say I would sing a Disney show tune?!  A quoi je pensais?

This week I would say I’ve managed to stay on track.  With Duolingo, I’ve managed to maintain an eight day streak!  Additionally, I was successful with almost six new ‘units’!  Sadly, even though I have managed to maintain the streak and learn a significant chunk of new words en francais – I’ve stagnated at 45% fluency.  While I’m not really hung up on how ‘fluent’ Duolingo says I am, based on my passed experience, I thought I had figured out what caused that number to fluctuate – now, I’m unsure.

I was also able to successfully initiate a few new phrases into my french conversations with a friend this week, I was also able to ask a few questions and sort out some french phrases I was unsure of.  Of note this week: I participated in, and understood a conversation that lasted roughly 4 exchanges each (woo-hoo)!

 Non, je ne l’ai pas oublié sur le chant

I consistently listened to french radio again, and I think I am noticing a difference in the French I am learning versus the French that I hear on CBC radio, additionally I am understanding more words in their conversations, as well as getting the ‘gist’ of their topics more frequently (yay)!

I was able to get on to Mango again this week, and I am slowly chipping away at the different units on the app.  I am really enjoying the ability to use common phrases with the app, and as I work through the ‘base’ vocabulary with Duolingo I think I will transition to more time on Mango as I am betting it will help my conversational french immensely.

I have also practiced reading en francais to my children again this week.  I was practicing with the book Tourbillon d’emotions this week (look for the read aloud coming next week, as this week, I’ve committed to -ahem- singing).

As for next week, I think I’ve maintained a consistent plan this week, and I’d like to aim for the same goal next week as I’ve felt so successful.  I will try and get a few more books to read aloud for the week, as I’m most successful and confident with those resources when I am speaking the language.

 

 

Etes-vous toujours la?

Without further adieu, mes debut en chantant en francais (this seemed like such a good idea last week when Genna killed it, but now it’s me, and it’s here, and I’m really nervous about it.) Although I have to agree with Genna, I do believe it is really helpful with the fluency piece and it will likely improve pronunciation as well.  I will also say I had to search long and hard for a Disney song that wasn’t too fast, too long or too complicated – hopefully you can understand me!

One last disclaimer – I decided to use a new video editor this week to see if I could amp up my ‘game’, this is an area I need more practice in – so it does not have a lot of bells and whistles (but it’s done)!