Saturday, April 10, 2010

Online Discussion Board

C'est bon : French students communicate online?
The Herald Bulletin
Lynelle Miller reports

The students in Karen De La Vergne’s French classes at Highland High School learn how to conjugate verbs from the textbook. But when it comes to learning about the culture in French-speaking countries, they just ask the students who live there. Near the beginning of the school year, De La Vergne came up with the idea of starting an online message board. NEXT

Karen De La Vergne ADVICE

If you're interested in setting up a discussion board, you can either go to (which is a free site I use) or just google in "free discussion board." That's how I found

Here are the steps I took:

1. Signed up for my free board.

2. Used their stuff to create a skin or "look " for the board.

3. Posted an introduction in French and English.

4. Explained to my own students that it was vital that they a) use Standard English instead of too much slang, b) keep everything classroom-appropriate, and try to write in both French and English.

5. Invited Francophone kids to join us. If you have teacher friends in France, ask them to sign their students up. If you don't, go to or (it's the same site). There you will find people from many different countries who are dying to talk to English speakers. You can set parameters so that you only invite people aged 14-19 or whatever ages you want.

6. Monitored the board EVERY SINGLE EVENING to make sure that no one wrote anything inappropriate or seriously misinterpreted any statements. This part is crucial. My students knew that I took the board very seriously and would have zero tolerance for any negative stuff.

7. One word of warning: If you teach a full schedule of French, then you don't need any more American students cluttering up your board. I know that came out wrong. What I meant was don't invite too many other classes to join you, because a) you'll be monitoring another teacher's students' comments, and b) you'll have a 10:1 ratio of American:French students writing on your board.

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