Wednesday, January 31, 2007


This semester I'm working with, among others, a Chinese graduate student J who's teaching first-year French.

I was dubious when I heard about it... a Chinese girl teaching French? Are the students going to take her seriously?

Yesterday I did my first classroom observation and was blown away. J's command of French is spectacular, and she has her students drooling at her feet. It helps that she's a pretty Asian woman-- that's got ninety percent of the men eating out of her hand right there, but she's also just a really good teacher. The lecture was highly interactive, and when students didn't know the material she guided them towards figuring it out; and would reward them with an absolutely heart-melting smile.

The class was also very well-organized. She used PowerPoint and promised to make the lecture notes available online-- always a way to score big points with students. More importantly, she made good and efficient use of the slides. They weren't just there for show; they really did operate as the blackboard might operate in my classroom.

Another impressive thing J did was to acknowledge her limitations in English. For example, "How would you say sociable in English? 'Sociable,' or 'outgoing'?" and the students eagerly gave her feedback. It was a smart move for her to concede her students' expertise in the English language, while reinforcing her own proficiency in French. They trust J's French absolutely, as do I. I'm heavily biased against the language, but J speaks it with such authentic authority that from her it sounds almost lovely.