College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM Hosts Joint Language Workshop with French Embassy

Sessions focus on using games as learning tools

JULY 7, 2015  |  By MICHAEL NEWSOM

Haydée Silva, tenured professor at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City, led a joint workshop at the University of Mississippi and the French Embassy, which was held at UM.

Haydée Silva, professor at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City, led the workshop.

The Department of Modern Languages at the University of Mississippi and the French Embassy in the United States recently hosted a joint workshop at UM to train educators to use games as a pedagogical tool in French classes.

The embassy’s Cultural Services Division helped put on the conference, which brought 24 K-12 and university teachers from seven Southeastern states to campus last week for three days of intensive learning. They learned how to diversify their “pedagogical supports” and their techniques of using animation in class. Donald Dyer, chair and professor of modern languages, said his department was “thrilled and honored” to host the workshop for French teachers.

“Our department considers teaching – and the development of second language skills in its students – its primary mission, and we are always in search of ways to better what we do in that regard,” Dyer said. “Marta Chevalier, who has organized this workshop, and the rest of our French section are truly leading the way in making the University of Mississippi one of the premier French-teaching institutions in the South.”

The information covered is useful for teaching French language and French culture, said Chevalier, lecturer in French.

“This program is an extremely valuable learning experience for the teachers involved,” Chevalier said. “The structure of the workshop not only provides a platform that fosters the development of innovative teaching methods, but also gives us a forum in which to exchange ideas and techniques of second-language instruction.”

One of the priorities of the French Embassy is to support the professional development of French teachers. The embassy covered the cost of tuition for this and many other workshops, with participants paying only for their transportation, lodging, parking and meals. Participants received a certificate from the French Embassy and continuing education credits if requested.

“This workshop has equipped me with a wealth of resources and ideas to implement in my French classroom,” said Stephanie Coker, assistant professor of French at Oral Roberts University. “I greatly appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues, to share tips and techniques and to benefit from three days of French immersion.”

Haydée Silva, trainer of teachers since 1992 and tenured professor at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City, led the UM workshop. On Monday (June 29), she led a spirited discussion of games for use in the classroom. Participants intently played along.

Play is important in the classroom to keep students engaged, and educators often need help with ideas, she said. The session included information on using technology, as well as simple games with low-cost materials.

“Sometimes teachers want to play, but they don’t have ideas or solutions about games,” Silva said. “My aim is to give them some theoretical and practical issues for the best use of games in the classroom.”