Exploring teaching strategies used to teach reading in French immersion
In 2003, the Government of Canada embarked on an ambitious initiative to double the number of young Canadians proficient in both official languages, English and French, by 2013 (Genesee, 2007). The increase in the number of students enrolled in French immersion classrooms has materialized into a simultaneous increase in the variety of learning styles, range of academic achievements, and types of reading difficulties being experienced by students (Mannavaryaryan, 2002). Therefore, school systems and educators now need to explore new instructional strategies to address these additional challenges present in French immersion classrooms across Canada. However, educators are being bombarded with program publishers making claims that their type of learning method or style will increase student achievement (Genesee, 2007). Students in the early literacy stages in French immersion programs, kindergarten up to and including Grade eight, must be able to read and comprehend increasingly complex content in French as they progress from year to year (Bournot-Trites, 2008; Deacon, Wade-Woolley, & Kelly, 2006). Teachers need to be able to identify students who may be at risk for reading difficulties as early as possible in order to provide these students with additional supports (Bournot-Trites, 2008; Genesee, 2007). For a certain percentage of students, early literacy learning can be challenging enough in their first language let alone in a second one (Fisher & Stoner, 2004). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore: (1) the methods and strategies that Saskatchewan French immersion teachers are currently employing in their K-8 classrooms; and (2) the interventions they use to assist students having difficulty with the acquisition of reading in French immersion. One hundred and twelve elementary French immersion educators from ten out of the eighteen Saskatchewan school divisions, who have French immersion schools, participated in this study. The teachers completed the French Immersion Teacher Survey (FITS) on-line via the SurveyMonkey (2010) website. Out of the 112 respondents, 95 educators (85%) completed the survey. Seventeen surveys were started, but not completed. Educators rated the amount of instructional time they devoted to seven different components or activities (independent/silent reading, shared reading, paired reading, guided reading, teaching reading with music, making words, and computer software programs) within their French reading and language arts programs on a scale of a lot to none (see Figure 3). Fifty-two (54.7%) teachers spend a moderate amount of time on shared reading as an instructional strategy to teach reading in French immersion and three (3.2%) spend a lot of time using computer software programs with their students. Educators rated the effectiveness of the seven different components or activities (independent/silent reading, shared reading, paired reading, guided reading, teaching reading with music, making words, and computer software programs) as effective reading strategies to use with students who are have difficulties with the acquisition of reading in French on a scale from: very effective to not at all effective (see Figure 4). The majority of Saskatchewan French immersion educators (63 or 66.3%) rated guided reading as the most effective instructional strategy to teach reading to their students who are struggling with the acquisition of reading in French, and 38 (40.4%) rated independent or silent reading as a mildly effective strategy. A teacher’s selected reading instructional strategies and methods are influenced by many factors: (1) the workshop, (2) the district curriculum policy, (3) teacher implementation of targeted reading strategies, (4) teacher’s perceptions of their own instructional efficacy, and (5) teacher’s perceptions of student’s academic needs and performance (Nichols et al., 2005). After reviewing the results of the FITS, perhaps educators will be better informed on what reading methods and strategies the majority of Saskatchewan teacher’s are currently using in their classrooms to assist their students with the acquisition of reading in French immersion.
French immersion teacher survey, reading difficulties, French, French immersion
Master of Education (M.Ed.)
Educational Psychology and Special Education
Educational Psychology and Special Education