Method

Groups Formed

Due to different skills (as determined by the electronic tests), the participants are divided into groups, given below:

Beginning

The session engages participants in solo exchanges. For the material used before session, key is large font size and extensive use of color illustrations to convey the message. Most of those are children’s books.

Intermediate

The session relies partly on a spontaneous tools like story telling on travel abroad. For instance a professional chef will have a French cookbook as reference. Those come after structured presentation, based on excerpts to read or prepared notes. Listening reviews are done from session to session. It is likely that some work toward longer material over time.

Advanced

Greater use of spontaneity is expected than other levels. This may include short hand notes to support a presentation instead of a detailed script. Other ways for the session maybe a recap on the news (open ended topics) since last session/ The same follows for other group members.

Material (print format-only)

Texts used for training by each group

Reading tools

See PRACTICE for selection of the sources

Text parameters, used for assignments

  • Length
  • Complexity
  • Illustrations
  • Subject
    • Familiar
    • Unfamiliar

Types of texts

  • Media
    • Book
    • Magazine article
    • Newspaper article
    • Comic book or graphic novel
  • Genres
    • News
    • History and politics
    • Science
    • Adventure and fantasy
    • Fables
    • Poetry
    • Music and dance

Synopsis Principles

Open the Presentation

See guidelines under PRACTICE

Prepare and Present selected material

Without written rules common among all presenters. the synopsis relies upon a few factors; a determining step is the preparation

Read the material or review visual aids, identify what stands out as key points. A matter of interpretation

Condense those key points with a few sentences or phrases. Subject to the person’s familiarity with subject or author, this might incorporate other relevant insight or alter the points prepared above

Simplify summary or alter it to address points raised. Output will be shorter for beginners and potentially closer to the narrative found in the source. Output will be longer for intermediate or advanced and may extrapolate from the source

End the presentation

See guidelines under PRACTICE

Priorities for the Training

1. Enable all levels to participate in ways suitable to their skills. Keep balance among levels in a supportive environment and vary the pace if needed

2. Keep reading material challenging enough for the intermediate to advanced levels. Ensure group motivation via a separate advanced group, if enough participants for intermediate and advanced group

3. Offer tips on phonetics, spelling or grammar, especially when such information is key to comprehension

4. Use the same learning aids or visual tools among all participants. Respect individual input and avoid comparison among the answers

5. Help beginner to intermediate participants to expand their skills by encouraging them with more challenging reading material suitable to their progress

Method Adapted to the ZOOM medium

The use of the Zoom app, mainly designed to hold meetings remotely, became needed during the period of intense confinement (COVID 19). Priorities for the training of the participants do not change with this mode of communication. But the steps taken and the teaching tools are modified.

Setting: Rather than being in the same room and speaking about a book or newspaper article held in hand, we find ourselves on the computer screen, each person barely visible in their small box. Therefore, there are limits to the opportunity for exchanges without running into the danger that each person holds a monologue (especially among beginners). In spite of such handicap, once a small group is formed with regular attendees, ZOOM becomes more feasible.

Medium: Instead of distributing narratives and images in the shared meeting room, such tools are offered visually with the “Share” function. A rather effective approach is to present next to each other the narrative in French and English. Similarly, it is easier for all to look at the visual elements at the same time rather than circulating a hard copy in the room. Some of the image quality is lost without the original frame or the authenticity of the colors.

Synopsis: When shifting to ZOOM, as the only method of communication, parts of the synopsis were fine tuned. This pertains to the intermediate and advanced levels. The main points of the material (narrative or other) are still part of the synopsis; initial questions were added to ask what was thought about the material before having read or reviewed it. As a shared step among the three levels, is a list of words difficult to understand, presented with the meaning(s) found. Each advanced participant also supplies three images related to the theme of the material. All those elements are easy to show on a screen and help the other participants to better follow the presentation. Their use is more limited with Beginners.