Using the action-oriented approach in the FSL classroom

As teachers of French as a second language, we want our students to have a functional working knowledge of using the target language in a variety of situations such as asking for help, ordering food or following directions. These are essential and purposeful tasks that can help our students in their travels or daily life as they age. We have also seen that, as relevancy of the task increases, so does student engagement and motivation to learn. 

One learning approach that seeks to combine these two goals is the action-oriented approach to language acquisition. The approach implements active, meaningful tasks that include spoken production, spoken interaction, listening, reading, and writing.

Below, I’ve answered some of the most popular questions about using the action-oriented approach in language classrooms to help you get started. 

What are action-oriented tasks?

Action-oriented tasks are purposeful and meaningful tasks that simulate situations that are likely to be encountered in daily life. For example, you are likely to encounter a situation in daily life where you would want to talk about your family. If implementing the action-oriented approach in your FSL classroom, you may set the students’ task to be creating a social media account which includes photos of family members. Students would need to caption the photos accurately and discuss the photos with a classmate. 

To make action-oriented tasks most effective, get to know your students and incorporate their interests into the tasks assigned in order to engage students and make the learning tasks as authentic as possible. Some other examples of specific and relevant action-oriented tasks can be found in the Curriculum Services Canada document “A Guide to Reflective Practice for Core French Teachers” (a link to this free resource is available at the end of this blog post).

Describing family members is an essential and meaningful task.

Introducing action-oriented tasks to students

When introducing an action-oriented task to students, you would present a real-life situation to students where they would need to provide specific information. For example, students may be told to leave their backpacks in the corner of the classroom or the hallway. This way, they will need to consult their schedules and ask to borrow school supplies! A great way to get your students to practice oral communication, reading and critical thinking.

The teacher will model what they want the students to do. For this task, the teacher might say “J'ai oubliĆ© mon sac. De quelles fournitures ai-je besoin?” The teacher would look at a class schedule and think aloud about what subjects they were going to cover in class and what a student may need for the tasks. For example “J'ai besoin d'un stylo.” Then the teacher would ask a student if they could borrow a pen. “Puis-je emprunter un stylo?”

Ask your students what they need to know in order to complete this task in the target language. Together, make a list of what is required and where they can find the information or language they need to succeed. If you feel your class may benefit from an anchor chart, make this together with the class, seeking their input. 

Action-oriented tasks are meaningful activities that reflect real-life situations which students could face in their daily lives. 

Differentiating action-oriented tasks

You can differentiate the tasks assigned to allow for flexible groups, student pairs, small group or whole-class activities. Plan a variety of activities to allow choice of activities and tasks for all learners


For more information, I highly suggest this comprehensive guide which provides many examples of applicable high-quality tasks:

A Guide to Reflective Practice for Core French Teachers

Action-oriented tasks for the French classroom - asking answering questions

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