ACSI Teacher Conference 2022

ACSI Teacher Conference 2022

Friday, October 7 marked the ACSI Teacher Conference 2022 in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

This was an opportunity for me to share with fellow educators the research I have been doing over the last 2.5 years as I have studied culture, identity, and language acquisition. The goals for the session were to share the researchers I have been reading, the theories that are being discussed in our field, and to give some examples of how we can incorporate these into our classrooms so that we can go beyond grammar and vocabulary to include the vast culture of the Francophone world, as well as prepare our students for a plurilingual and pluracultural world.

The 2022-2023 school year is just taking off! Lesson plans and unit goals to be uploaded in the coming months.

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 


The writing on the wall – murals with messages in Montréal

The writing on the wall – murals with messages in Montréal

I’m currently in Montréal, Québec for three weeks as I complete a course related to my M.Ed.  Besides meeting my cohort, who I have been learning with for 2 years now via Zoom, I have really enjoyed walking around and discovering the city.

As I walk, I pay attention to how the shop windows are dressed up or down, the way slogans are written, I pay attention to what people around me are saying and how they are saying it (example “ouais!”). I also pay attention to graffiti and murals. To be honest between doorways, bees, and streets, I likely take as many photos of painted walls.

What I’ve noticed in Montréal is there is a strong creative vibe, there is also a vibe that is calling out for justice. Specifically speaking, I have noticed a few murals that cry out the injustice experienced by the Indigenous women and girls in Canada.

This, like many other topics that are woven into the history of Canada, is raw, and is difficult. A question teachers may have is how can we present this topic to our students in a way that is respectful, that brings them into the conversation, and also age appropriate (as some of you may teach younger students).

As a high school teacher, I have been talking about May 5 and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls for years now. I can do that. They have the capacity and usually are mature enough to recognize this is a serious topic and one that deserves respect. Primary teachers should take into consideration the age of your students and how you would approach it. However, I don’t believe it means it’s a topic that can’t be discussed with young students. Like with the topic of residential schools, it should be approached with care.

For May 5, I usually hang red dresses around my classroom, this is a change to the class environment students notice right away and so they begin to have questions and chat amongst themselves about what it might be fore. I can start conversations in French with them with questions such as “Qu’est-ce qu’il y a de different dans notre salle de classe?” “Pourquoi pensez-vous que les robes rouges sont utilisées?”

This week in my course we discussed the different ways of responding to something, like in this case an idea or an experience. These are physically, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually. You can ask your students, « Quand vous êtes entrés dans la classe, et vous avez vus les robes, qu’est-ce que vous avez senti? Avez-vous eu une réaction émotive? Avez-vous eu une réaction physique? Voulez-vous la décrire pour nous? » And here is the opportunity for you to help students find the words in French for the answers they are giving.  They can use English words as they need, and you can help them to fill in the blanks with the French words. Here the students are thinking of a topic that is complex and complicated, using the French they know and hearing and seeing you model the French they are grasping for in their answers.

I can’t wait to show these photos to my classes and ask them if they have noticed such murals in our community. Think of the conversations we can have on whether they feel this is an important topic to be presented on a mural, perhaps there are other ways they think would be more effective. I can’t wait to open the space for the students to think about this topic, the impact it may have on our own community, and what they can do to advocate for this topic. Students will be able to work together, practice their French together and with the teacher circulating they can be helped to fill in the gaps with the French they are grasping for.

To learn more about Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls:

Native Women’s Winderness

The inquiry into MMIW

Moosehide campaign bringing awareness

Special Edition

Special Edition

Interview on DissectEd with Dr. Michaela Keegan Jedele

This week I am thrilled to be the guest of Dr. Michaela Keegan Jedele on her podcast DissectEd.

Michaela is currently doing a series speaking with teachers who find joy in teaching especially taking into account, and in spite of, the world events of the past few years.

I came across Michaela’s TikTok account shortly after one of my students said “Mrs. Drew, you need to be on TikTok”. From my first silly videos with students my followers have grown. More importantly, my teacher connections grew. I have seen what other teachers do in their classrooms. I’ve seen things I look forward to implementing next year and things that aren’t my style. I try to post messages of funny community building things that happen with my students (drinking corn milk for example, or tagging one of my favourite French Canadian singers so my students didn’t have to do a grammar test), and always want to encourage other teachers in their teaching practice.

Like Michaela, I have also seen and heard the struggles educators across North America are facing, the investments they make into their teaching and students, and the despair some have that have led to them leaving the profession. I respect teachers no matter whether they decide to stay or change directions.

Michaela reached out to me saying she enjoys my content and hoped I would agree to an interview. I was starstruck! She is someone I follow on TikTok! And she was reaching out to me! We each have stories, we all are on journeys, we all have something to contribute to the conversation about education, community, and growth. I am so honoured I was asked to contribute to her podcast.

Michaela is presenting a free summer seminar, “Self Taught: Teach the year you want”. It takes place online, with three evening sessions, starting July 14. The keynote speaker will be Daryl Williams (@mypursuitofexcellence – TikTok). You can easily register on her website. See you there!

DissectEd podcast:

TikTok: drkeeganjedele

Instagram: michaela_keegan

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 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 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 ( 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 (

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

Coordination. Linguistic Identity and Language Portrait | Terminology Coordination Unit (

The Cornerstone of Language Classes

The Cornerstone of Language Classes

I’ve been a language teacher for 16 years now, and I will admit that two words that automatically come to mind when I think about language learning are ‘grammar’ and ‘vocabulary’.  I often share with my students that I was never very good at remembering vocabulary on quizzes.  I dreaded those quizzes; I still do when I am taking a course and there is vocabulary to memorize. Having said that, I also share the importance of broadening our vocabulary. Grammar on the other hand, when not being tested on it, I love! But should these two items take centre stage as we plan and teach our lessons? After much research by myself and others, I would say a firm ‘no’.

The centre of our lessons should be curiosity, discovery, and patience. Understanding a language goes beyond knowing how to conjugate verbs and identify random nouns, rather, it is understanding a people, valuing their perspective, and ideally, being able to interact with people from a different culture than one’s own.

In fact, this idea of being able to interact between cultures has been called ‘Intercultural Communicative Competency’ or ICC. A researcher by the name of Michael Byram is known as the originator of this theory in 1997, and it is his research on which many other researchers have based their studies.  In this theory, there are 5 ‘savoirs’.  You can often see and hear Byram being cited in podcasts, on websites, and in articles. See below for a list of these.

ICC is “the ability to navigate intercultural differences in order to communicate successfully and can be defined as a set of knowledge, skills and attitude which are considered essential for successful intercultural communication”. (Byram, 1997). ICC has been successfully used in both K-12 schools and post-secondary schools around the globe. I have personally been looking at my units for my high school Core French classes to see where I can put less emphasis on the grammar and vocabulary and more on the discovery and inquiry of other Francophone cultures. I’ve included below a well written article by Byram, Gribkova, and Starky (2002) which explains ICC well and gives examples to frequently asked questions about implementation in the classroom.

As always, please reach out should you have resources to suggest or questions about today’s blog topic.

Mme. Drew


Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Byram. M., Gribkova, B., & Starkey, H. (2002). Developing the Intercultural Dimension in Language Teaching: A Practical Introduction for Teachers. Strasbourg: Council in Europe