My FSL colleagues and I have just spent a terrifically enriching and practical week of professional development with Olivier Massé in NLA (Neurolinguistic Approach for teaching FSL) here at Havergal College. After only one week of discovery sessions of learning French with this new approach, our pupils gave enthusiastic spontaneous feedback:

“French was the course I hated the most, and now I love it! “

Methodological excellence serving pedagogical excellence.

“We are led to use full sentences all the time and it’s incredible, because afterwards, the sentences come directly into my head, I don’t need to think about grammar. “

“Our sentences are corrected, our pronunciation is corrected, the teacher takes great care of ourselves and of what we want to say. “

“When I arrived, I didn’t know anyone, but as we talk about ourselves, now we know each other well and the atmosphere is super cool! “.

… and many other enthusiastic comments that show that, at just 11 years old, our schoolgirls fully understand how the NLA’s strategies work and they are able to measure their effectiveness.

Far from a typical lecture-style course, our mornings were spent understanding, observing, and simulating NLA teaching phases and strategies, followed by afternoons with a group of eager young FSL students to immediately apply our training in classroom practice. Intense, yes! Engaging, constantly! And most importantly, a hugely positive way to improve the language-learning experience and French proficiency of our students.

Some of our younger teenager students (Mercy, Katie, Lingyi, Marlowe, Dahlia, Mia, Kaylee, Sunny… ! ? ) characterized their 15-hour course by saying, for example, that we cared for each of them and their messages and ideas, that we truly listened to them and the quality of their pronunciation and communication, that we systematically corrected their sentences, that we really spoke to each other in ‘real French’ (!) consistently throughout the classes, that we were there to help and support them every step of the way, that there was none of their usual fill-in-the-blank boring worksheets in sight, that the classes were encouraging and fun and authentic and not scary, meaningless, and punitive (!), that they were glad to get to know us as people in French, that they felt happy and proud to finally recognize and correct their errors that had been going unmentioned for years, that they liked being enabled to interact so much and so correctly, that they woke up in the mornings happy and excited to come back to the group. Wow. The happiness and thanks and mature recognition of learning expressed by these young students actually brought me close to tears.

I highly recommend this course to all second language teachers. For me and our participating faculty here at Havergal College, our absorbing of the concepts, our observations of each other’s teaching, our direct application of ANL, and Olivier’s daily personalized feedback allowed us to reflect and progress at rapid speed. Authentic, organic, humanist, methodic, science-based, complete – these are descriptors that come to my mind for NLA this week, but perhaps most of all caring and compelling. I’m so looking forward to working with my FSL colleagues and CiFRAN as we bring NLA into our classes!

Merci du fond du cœur, Olivier !

Sandra Nelson

Languages Department Head

Havergal College, Toronto