Weaving culture & allyship (part 1)

Weaving culture & allyship (part 1)

Flipgrid is now Flip – and it has a blog! In its May 23 blog post Ways to be a better ally plus resources that help build effective allyship skills, Flip has presented a helpful starting point for creating a space in your classroom where people feel safe, valued, and heard.

I was recently in a course where we were told we are not the saviors. That has stuck with me. It’s not up to me to be the voice that creates change, but I can use my voice, use my privilege, to create a space for authentic voices to be heard.

As I have been thinking of how to do this, I keep coming back to resources. The books, podcasts, websites, videos and posters I choose to present to my classes can and do help in the creation of this space. So, I need to choose them well.

This summer I have worked to create a resource library of items I can use in my efforts to be a better ally both in my classroom and out. I fully notice that the resources in this list are specific to First Peoples. It is such as I am presently decolonizing my courses, aligning them with current curriculum. As I use them this year, I will post free resources in the form of lesson plans that you can use in your classrooms as they fit your curriculum.

Here’s the list (so far).


When we were alone by David A. Robertson and Julie Flett

  • Debout comme un grand cèdre by Nicola I. Campbell
  • Si je disparais by Brianna Jonnie with Nahanni Shingoose
  • Why Indigenous literatures matter by Daniel Heath Justice
  • One story, one song by Richard Wagamese
  • Stolen words by Melanie Florence
  • Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • I am not a number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
  • A day with Yayah by Nicola I Campbell
  • La femme venue du ciel, myth wendat de la création by Huwennuwanenhs Louis-Karl Picard-Sioui
  • Shin-chi’s canoe by Nicola I. Campbell
  • When I was eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
  • Not my girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
  • Eagle soaring by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd

Coming soon! The secret pocket by Peggy Janicki 


Une communauté de locateurs de français – A community of French speakers

Une communauté de locateurs de français – A community of French speakers

English follows the French.

Comment avez-vous appris le français? Est-ce que c’est un sujet que vous aimez? Est-ce que c’est complètement nouveau pour vous? Pas de soucis!

Même si je faisais des fautes quand je parlais français ou des erreurs quand je l’écrirais, j’adore la langue française et souvent, j’ai le nez dans un livre ou manuel de grammaire.  Je suis chanceuse que j’ai des ami·e∙s qui adorent le français aussi et nous parlions souvent, des fois pendant des heures, de la grammaire.

Mais comment améliorer votre niveau de français si, comme on dit en anglais, « French grammar isn’t my thing »? Tournez-vous à une communauté d’ami·e∙s, collègues, ou copains/copines!

Le but de parler en français n’est pas d’avoir la grammaire parfaite. Selon moi, c’est de communiquer des idées et d’agrandir mes compétences de grammaire et de vocabulaire. J’ai trouvé que quand je parle avec d’autres en français, j’apprends beaucoup – et en particulier quand je faisais des fautes! De plus, en parlant avec des locuteurs natifs/locutrices natives j’apprends des mots et des phrases spécifiques, comme des phrases idiomatiques par exemple.

Mais quoi faire quand vous ne trouvez pas une communauté française? Vous avez toujours moi et cette communauté! J’ai hâte de parler avec des nouveaux amis/nouvelles amies et de partager des idées avec des enseignant∙e∙s. Envoyez-moi un courriel à vanessa@ouifrenchteachers.com et nous pouvons nous rencontrer sur Zoom ou mieux encore, en vrai! J’ai des ressources que je pourrais partager et nous pouvons travailler ensembles sur d’autres projets pour nos élèves. Un de mes buts pour ce site web est d’agrandir ma communauté d’enseignant∙e∙s de français et de partager les ressources que j’ai ou que je trouve.

Here’s the English.

How did you learn French? Is it a subject you like? Is it completely new to you? No worries!

Even if/when I make mistakes when I speak or errors when I write it, I love the French language and I often have my nose in a French grammar book or textbook. I am fortunate enough to have friends who love French as well and we often spend hours just talking about French grammar.

But how does one improve their level of French, if like they say in English, “French grammar isn’t my thing”? Turn to a community of friends or colleagues.

The goal of speaking French is not to have perfect grammar.  In my opinion, the goal is to communicate ideas and deepen and widen my grammar and vocabulary competencies. I find that when I speak with others in French, I learn a lot – and in particular I learn specific words and phrases, such as idiomatic phrases.

But what can one do if there isn’t a community that speaks French available? You can turn to me and this community! I look forward to speaking with new friends and sharing ideas with other teachers.  Send me an email at vanessa@ouifrenchteachers.com and we can meet on Zoom, or better yet face to face! I have teaching resources that I can share (I’m happy to actually) and we can work on new projects together.  One of the goals of this website is to broaden my community of French teachers and to share resources that I have or that I find.

À plus! Vanessa

Authentic Resources

Authentic Resources

If you are teaching French in a part of the world where French is the minority language you may find it difficult to find authentic resources for your classes. With the help of the Internet, there are so many resources available to language teachers and our students. No longer must all our resources be a hardcopy in our hands.

How does one begin to search for resources? First and foremost, understanding your literacy goals for your students are is important. This may direct you to one form of resource over another. Below I have listed some resources I have used with my students with a brief description of how I have used them.

Romans/Livres: Some romans are available with an audio file that has a native French speaker reading the book.  This is great for having students read along with the audio clip. In doing so, students hear native French speaker pronunciation, as well as an appropriate pace and tempo for speaking and reading. Here are two books I have used with my Core French 10-12 classes

Bebey, K. (2013). Enfin chez moi. Les Éditions Didier.

Marrama, T. (2021). Zeinixx. Independent.

Balados/Podcasts: Often podcasts have transcripts available on their website that students can read along with while listening to the podcast. Podcast can be short clips of information of 3-15 minutes, which is a good length for keeping student interest and attention.

French Bla Bla

Journal en français facile – rfi saviors

Nouvelles en français facile

Youtube videos:

Audrey D – From Québec, Audrey covers culture, to accents, to food. A great way for students to hear different accents in Canada.

DocSeven – covers a wide range of topics from history, to culture, to geography. Its creator is from French Guiana.

Easy French  – This is a great channel to provide authentic French resources to your students! The pace of the speakers is usually slow enough so students can follow along and you hear a number of accents (mostly from France).

OIFrancophonie – The channel of the Organization International de la francophonie has a number of useful, and eye catching, videos about the Francophone world. They also have a website (https://www.francophonie.org/) where you or your students can go to keep up to date with the Francophone world.

I am always looking for new resources that will show the wonders of the Francophone world, are relevant, and catches the interest of my students. If you have any to suggest, please share!

The Language of Languages

The Language of Languages

So often in life, naming and identifying something makes things easier, more manageable.  Someone says, “Come see the new car” and no one looks in the pantry, but someone says, “This is an example of a robust culture”, and you may find people looking around wondering what exactly is meant by culture.

So, let’s run down a short list of words often used when discussing language and language classrooms:

  • culture (small ‘c’), refers to “shared patterns of behaviors and interactions”.  These behaviors and interactions then help the group share in an identity and distinguish between groups. (CARLA, 2020)
  • Culture (capital ‘C’), while this once referred to art and literature, now includes “a shared way of life” (Byram et al., 2002, p.5)
  • Linguistic identity is a person’s identity as a speaker of one or more languages. One’s identity is formed as we interact with other people, whether from the same culture as ours or different.

Culture, small ‘c’, and identity are not static entities, they are constantly being shaped and changing based on the experiences we, and our students, have.

What impact does this have on our teaching and our classrooms? This means that each one of our students has a linguistic identity, each one understands themselves as being part of a culture, and each student’s linguistic identity is constantly changing and growing based on what happens in and out of our classrooms. As teachers we do not need to be the centre and distributor of all information, but rather, our students are sharing and growing, with each other and with us. Even more beautiful is that each student brings with them a bounty of knowledge to share from their linguistic and cultural identities.

Gone are the static worksheets.  Here are the interactions, the discoveries, and the projects that encourage us to learn with our students and help them to grow in the skills they will use when they meet new people in new places.


Byram. M., Gribkova, B., & Starkey, H. (2002). Developing the Intercultural Dimension in

Language Teaching: A Practical Introduction for Teachers. Strasbourg: Council in


Centre for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition. (2019, April 9). What is Culture?

 The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA): Culture (umn.edu)

European Parliament. (2020, February 4). Linguistic Identity and Language Portrait. Terminology

Coordination. Linguistic Identity and Language Portrait | Terminology Coordination Unit (termcoord.eu)