Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Parallel texts on frenchteacher

Many teachers and pupils have enjoyed using the parallel texts on frenchteacher. In case you don't know what they are, I'm talking about two texts, presented side by side, one in the target language, the other in English. Texts if this sort can be found on the Y7-10/11 pages of my site. I confess that I was never a huge fan of parallel texts when I taught. They went against my instinct and training which were to avoid using English as far as possible. Why would students bother to decipher or discover a new text if they can simply glance across at its English translation?

However, there are solid reasons for making use of parallel texts. Firstly, you can get pupils to read texts closer to their maturity level than many you find in text books. You can use more complex language than you might have done without a translation. This should make texts more interesting to students.

Secondly, showing the English translation leaves pupils in no doubt at all what the text means. Despite our best efforts at making target language transparent to students, many remain confused and welcome a clear translation. Some teachers believe that we should always make sure that all language is understood, that all input is comprehensible. Translation makes this possible. We should not, they argue, be so dogmatic about TL use that we sacrifice students' understanding.

That said, showing English does potentially discourage students from engaging carefully with the source text. There is value is forcing students to go through the process of decoding a text whose meaning is not at first apparent.

If you are a fan of the parallel text, there are plenty to choose from on frenchteacher.net. On the Y7 page you can print off a whole booklet of parallel texts featuring topics I thought might interest beginners: dolphins, spiders, meerkats, sharks, vampires, the Channel Tunnel, the Eiffel Tower and many more. On the Y8 page you'll find slightly longer texts on robots, the Tour de France, Cinderella and the game Minecraft.

The Y9 page has articles about migration to Europe, fair trade, a heroic charity walk and two 'faits divers', a man who falls from a balcony and a girl abandoned at a motorway service station. On the Y10-11 page you'll find zombies, Islamic State, Maglev trains, superheroes, phobias and more.

Along with each pair of texts there are exercises which force students to engage with the text in the TL: true/false, ticking correct sentences, completing vocab lists and so on. This means that you and the pupils can remain largely in the target language, while having the benefit of seeing the Menai g of the source text.

Finding interesting reading for younger students is always a challenge. Parallel texts are one way of providing material which might tickle their fancy.




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