Reading and writing skills before literature

Before teaching students to dissect the literary intricacies of a text, it is still necessary to ensure that they know how to read and write correctly.

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Solutions to improve French


Revise French programs

So says Luc Papineau, a secondary school teacher for 28 years.

“I have students in front of me who don’t know the difference between ‘a’ and ‘to’ and I have to teach them the difference between a neutral or subjective point of view. There is a very clear mismatch between the students and the curriculum. Either we have to update the programs, or we have to update the students, ”he says.

This teacher argues for focusing first and foremost on reading and writing skills, before literary notions.

Lots “to cover”

Carole Fisher, associate professor at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi, admits that literature “may have taken up a little too much space” in the programs at the end of high school. “The reasoning was to make them work on literature so that they don’t hit a wall in CEGEP,” she explains.

Even the notions of grammar would benefit from being better targeted, adds Isabelle Gauvin, professor of French didactics at UQAM, since there is “so much to cover” in a short time.

“It is not true that the mastery of the agreement of the past participles with having is settled in three hours of teaching. Ask most teachers, they’ll tell you they don’t really have the time to devote more time to it, since the program is so full. And we will repeat the same way of teaching from one year to another, without the students really learning, ”she said.

Essential knowledge

The reflection is also in motion on the side of the Quebec Association of French teachers.

Marie France Morin

With the pandemic, teachers have been focusing for two years on essential knowledge, an orientation which could be an avenue to be favored in the long term, it is indicated.

But even the list of essential knowledge remains long, some teachers point out. In fourth secondary, for example, “the index of content to be taught systematically” is represented in a table that stretches over… 10 pages.

Marie-France Morin, professor at the University of Sherbrooke, pleads in addition for an update of the teaching programs, in the light of the new knowledge resulting from the research in education.

Examples of essential knowledge taught in Secondary IV

Types of content “to be taught systematically” in the context of a pandemic

  • Argumentation: argument and counter-argument, argumentative sequence, etc.
  • Explanation: explanatory procedures, explanatory sequence, etc.
  • Justification: processes, justification sequence, etc.
  • Description: aspect, descriptive processes, descriptive sequences, etc.
  • Reported speech: direct, indirect, dialogue, monologue, quotation, etc.
  • Narration: spatio-temporal setting, narrator, characters, etc.
  • Poetry: poetic language, theme and worldview, inserted language, etc.
  • Theatre: author, stage directions, staging, dialogical sequences, etc.
  • Neutral or subjective point of view

Source: Progression of learning in secondary school, French language of instruction 4e secondary, 2020-2021 school year, learning to prioritize in a pandemic context

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