In these so many years, I have seen a wide variety of learners. Some people initially dread learning this language but once their learning starts, they gradually end up loving the language. Some people are become paranoid of French grammar and verbs and are put off by the endless exceptions and rules that this language comprises of and they finally give up saying that it’s not their cup of tea. Some people who start learning this language as a hobby, complete higher-level certifications in French and finally become professionals.

One thing I have observed as a teacher of the French language is that when the teacher focusses excessively on teaching grammar and content the classes tend to become boring and can have an adverse bearing on the student’s motivation. Therefore, students’ involvement, motivation and satisfaction should be paramount considered in classroom activities to promote students’ healthy learning, participation and involvement. Hence, a teacher plays an important role in creating innovative and creative learning engagements and in maintaining a positive and joyful environment in the class.

Since student motivation and satisfaction in learning a foreign language are the key factors that promote a good classroom environment and lead to academic excellence and achievement, it is very important to seek, listen to and study student opinions and needs in terms of teaching methods and classroom activities in order to assess their needs.

I used a questionnaire in my class to identify and analyse student needs and interests.

Some of the questions they were asked to answer were

  • I like to learn French because
  • I think French should be _________
  • What do you think could help you learn French better?
  • Some of the answers I got were
  • I like to learn French because
  1. It’s fun and interesting
  2. I can converse freely with a French speaker
  3. I can understand things better when I go to France
  4. I have my friends/cousins who are learning French therefore I was motivated to learn French etc.

For the 2nd question, some of them felt French should be less difficult in pronouncing and there should be a lesser number of verbs and grammatical rules.

The third question I felt had a connection with the student agency wherein the child could choose his or her own resources to learn. In the context of a foreign language classroom, our job is to facilitate opportunities with their learning that enable more active participation for the students.

It was amazing to see from the results that the number one reason to start learning French was the students’ own interest in the language. Each student has a different learning style; therefore, creating a variety of effective lesson plans is crucial in order to satisfy the students. Kinaesthetic activities, group activities, peer assessments, collaborative activities, vocabulary games, quizzes and usage of authentic documents, visual flashcards go a long way in keeping the student motivation and participation intact in a foreign language classroom. I do feel as teachers we must make the student value process more than the product, the means more important than the ends.