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French Language Lab

Tapas teaching French in French Language Lab

French Tapas, Aurovilian since 1991, has supplied the main drive towards the creation of the French Language Lab, which she currently runs with her Aurovilian friend and colleague Mita from India. They give us the following information about the learning centre:

Laboratory

If you are an Aurovilian, Newcomer, Guest, Long-Term Guest, Friend of Auroville, or someone who is working in Auroville, and you'd like to learn French, one of the places you can come to is the French Lab in Centre Field. Here people come to learn French in a relaxed atmosphere. The focus of the lab is adults. Classes may be in groups or for individuals, and many different options are available. It all depends on what the student needs. Various methods based on video, audio, CD-ROM and texts are available.

Methods

There are 3 levels of classes: beginners, intermediate and advanced. All students watch the video series, 'French in Action', read associated texts, receive an audio-cassette for each lesson and a booklet of exercises. Some students study in a group and look at the video-based method one or two times a week, and have regular classes. Others come individually several times a week to look gradually at the lessons and learn by themselves. Yet others come and pick up a CD and learn through their computers, and follow-up with audio-cassettes and associated texts.

Group classes are generally twice a week for one and a half-hours over a period of 3 months, which is a period of concentration, involvement and assimilation. Then there is time for reflection and practice (to get out there and speak!). After six months or a year, the students may return to the Lab or continue their studies with the aid of CD-ROMs.

'Lecture des Sons'

Classes take off from the video into reading (beginner students start reading French immediately), study of grammar, small conversations, translating the texts, and discussion. Especially with Tamil students, emphasis is laid on the difference in sound between the mother tongue and French, and a special method 'Lecture des Sons' has also been developed. With Intermediate and Advanced students, other audio-based methods involving audio-cassettes and CD-ROMs¨ are also used, along with texts of Mother and other authors and articles from French newspapers and magazines, or French TV programmes and French films and cartoons borrowed from the Auroville Video Library TO supplement.

Individual courses

In addition to the above, one of the teachers - Aurovilian Tapas from France - also offers individual courses:

  • Reading, writing and grammar - for students who speak French, but who have never had access to reading and writing.

  • Discussions - for advanced students who want to improve their French.

  • Films and reflection - for students who may, for example, be preparing for a course of study in France.

Young students

Though the focus is clearly on adult education, young people of Auroville also know that they are welcome to come to watch French films, and the Lab also occasionally offers classes to young students as a supplement to their regular study at school.

Increasing attendance

Every year, the laboratory welcomes approximately:

  • 5 students in private classes.

  • One or two classes of 5 beginners.

  • One or two classes of 5 advanced students.

In addition, about a dozen students receive French teaching outside the Lab premises (in 1999, from Shuttle Technology; in 2000, all the employees of Bharat Nivas - Messenger Service, Post Office, various secretaries of SAIIER, Working Committee, Visa Service, etc).

We also research internet-based French teaching methods as well as other information related to teaching French, such as films, CD-ROMs, events and meetings, and distant education resources.

The agenda for the future

  • Getting videos, CD-ROMs and audio-cassettes from France.

  • A portable TV to go along with the portable blackboard and VCR.

  • Increasing collection of French textbooks from around the world. Most countries edit, in their own language, textbooks of French grammar. It's really interesting to compare the similarities and differences in their approach. These textbooks are also utilised individually by students from different countries (more than 12 nationalities have already received French teaching).

  • The Mother's Agenda and audio-cassettes of the same.

  • A satellite dish to record and view French TV programmes (Terre des Hommes, Nature, Informations, Journal).

  • Magazines and newspapers: Le Monde, Libération, Sciences et Vie Junior, Ecologie...

Dreams

  • To construct a language laboratory for adults in Auroville:

  • We've been working since a year with a group of language teachers and an architect to realise this project. It will be a free-standing building completely equipped to meet the language learning needs of Auroville, particularly in the 4 languages that Mother wants taught in Auroville: Tamil, French, Sanskrit, English.

  • It is conceived with a classroom for each language; an international library equipped with several audio-visual and computer-based methods; and an amphitheatre allowing projection of films from different countries, in order to communicate the spirit of those languages.

  • This Laboratory aspires to create a vibrant, joyous and concentrated atmosphere for study.

  • To edit a small booklet in the 4 languages:
    A unique 'Speak Sanskrit' course was followed this past year in Auroville. We hope to translate the structure and method of this course into French, English and Tamil. A booklet based on this method will help Aurovilians to immediately start learning the 4 languages.

  • To write, film and realise a uniquely Aurovilian method of learning French through video and CD-ROM.

Contact: mita@auroville.org.in

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