If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em: Using Message Boards in the French Foreign Language Classroom
High school students have metamorphosed into internet gourmands, as they increasingly spend their free time posting on message boards, emailing, and chatting with their friends. Despite the spike in technological intelligence among high school students, levels of writing proficiency are not where educators, politicians, or future employers would like them to be. In a 2002 study, 75% of high school students tested wrote at a level below proficient when taking the NAEP written exam (Urquhart, 2005). With such high numbers of students not meeting state expectations, educators are focusing more on what can be done to improve student writing. As Collins and Bissell (2004) point out, a correlation exists between how well the students believe they can write (grammar self-efficacy), and how well they actually perform (grammar accuracy). In order to examine methods of increasing student self-confidence in writing and thereby grammar accuracy and writing proficiency, this study analyzes the affect of secondary French students posting weekly responses to class message boards. Due to the students’ fondness for the internet, it is postulated that their confidence with the computer will bolster confidence in their writing, thereby augmenting their actual ability to write in French. The study consists of using questionnaires to gauge student confidence, as well as pre- and post-writing samples compared according to the ACTFL guidelines for writing proficiency.
Keywords: Secondary, French Writing Proficiency, Foreign Language, Internet, Message Boards
French & Spanish Teacher, Foreign Language, Hart High School