Growth mindset and the French Classroom

Growth mindset in the French classroom

“I’m not good at learning French." “French is too hard.” “I’ll never need to speak French after I’ve graduated.”  Some of these statements may sound familiar to you as a teacher of French as a second language.  You already know that learning a new language can be a challenging and stressful experience for some of your students. Being immersed in the new language in the classroom can feel overwhelming, and being expected to communicate in the new language may feel risky. 

French growth mindset tags available HERE

Often, our students come to us with strong opinions about learning a second language, especially when it is a ‘required’ curriculum area. As teachers of FSL, one of our challenges is often motivating our students to learn and develop their language skills.  Helping our students to develop a growth mindset can help relieve some of the stresses that they feel about learning a new language. Below, I briefly outline the research available about mindset and how you can begin to teach your students to train their brains to think in this new way. 

What is growth mindset?

Growth mindset refers to a learning theory developed by Dr. Carol Dweck. It revolves around the belief that you can improve intelligence, ability and performance with dedication and hard work. The opposite, a fixed mindset, is where people believe that intelligence and abilities are fixed traits that cannot be improved.

Growth mindset posters for the French classroom available HERE

Why is growth mindset important?

Developing a growth mindset can help our students become better learners. Instead of focussing on their final grades, students become more invested in the learning process and see value in each activity required to come to a greater understanding and appreciation of the curriculum material. 

How can I help my students develop a growth mindset?

1.    Teach students about positive self-talk.
Consider how you can teach your students to change their thinking about learning. Instead of saying “This is too hard,” train students to say “This may take me some time and extra effort.” Or, “I give up” can be changed to “Let me try another strategy.” 

In my TPT shop, I have a collection of growth mindset resources available specifically for FSL teachers of beginners in grades 4 - 8. There is a package of worksheet activities that focus on positive self-talk and how to change your mindset. You can find out more HERE.

French growth mindset activities available HERE.

2.    Embrace failure
Recognize mistakes as opportunity for improvement and learning. Point out your own mistakes and make a note of explaining how those mistakes have helped you to improve. 

French growth mindset bookmarks available from The French Nook HERE

3.    Provide your students with choices
Yes, I know that we have a dense curriculum that we need to follow. However, there is always room to ask students what THEY want to learn. What are their goals for French class? What are their interests? Perhaps you have a large group of students involved in sports. Can you tie that in to their learning experiences? Can they learn action verbs that apply to the sport that they play?  The more involved students are in designing their learning experience, the more engaged they become.  

4.    Explain WHY they are learning
We often focus on the WHAT of learning. We TELL our students what they are going to be learning about. We need to also focus on the WHY. WHY do you need to give an oral presentation? Because it will help you to gain confidence speaking in the target language in front of a group of people. When posting learning goals in the classroom, I also like to post the WHY. I achieve this by including my students. I use a large piece of chart paper ask the students why the learning goal is important. They often have great ideas and I share my own as well. We keep this posted in the classroom for the duration of the unit.

Available Resources

I have a package of growth mindset activities and resources available in my TPT shop. It includes worksheets, posters, exit tickets, tags, and mindfulness activities that can help you as you work on growth mindset with your FSL learners. Find out more HERE.

French Growth Mindset activities available from The French Nook HERE

Where can I find out more about growth mindset?

The information about how you can find Carol Dweck’s book detailing her mindset research.

Dweck, Carol S.. Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success. New York : Ballantine Books, 2008. Print.

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