French Resources: Etienne, Canada's Favourite Children's Artist of the YearFriday, December 30, 2011
Having taught for nearly a decade, I have come to learn that teaching French as a Second Language is no easy feat. When I transferred to Toronto, I was surprised to learn that Core French begins as early as Grade 1 in our board. It's a great age because they absorb everything like a sponge. The focus is on oral communication up until Grade 3 when reading and writing are introduced. I love these early years because the students are still eager to learn and participate in French class. Once they hit the junior years, however, I've noticed that things start to change.
By the time students enter the intermediate division, they are even less likely to show any enthusiasm at all. Therein lies one of the greatest challenges of a Core French teacher. How do you gain and maintain the attention of pre-teens and teens who would much rather be listening to their iPods? The answer, I discovered, is quite simple: Introduce them to the music of one of Canada's Favourite Children's Artist - Étienne.
Étienne is the stage-name of Steven Langlois, a teacher with the Greater Essex County District School Board. Born and raised in Windsor, Ontario, he began performing at a young age. While attending the University of Windsor, where he graduated with a B.A. in French Language and Literature and a B.Ed., he began composing songs designed to help children learn English, French and Spanish using popular styles of music. Now residing in LaSalle, Ontario, with his wife and two children, he has taught English and French to students from grades one to twelve for the past nineteen years.Étienne currently has seven albums of hip, rockin' tunes to help French students learn how to count, conjugate, and much more. His music appeals to students and teaches them key grammar concepts in a way that is fun and engaging. Popular songs include Avoir II, Aller, Le passé composé, Dansez!, La salle de classe, and Pourquoi Take French? to name a few. The upbeat tunes have a lasting impact on students and I kid you not when I say that I have had former students stop by my office and tell me how they still remember some of Étienne's songs that I had taught them in elementary school.
If you're a French teacher in Ontario, you should check out current concert listings. I have been to two of his concerts and I am amazed at the energy that fills the room. The kids go absolutely wild! I also recommend that, if you get a chance to attend the Ontario Modern Languages Teachers' Association Spring Conference, you should sign up for Étienne's workshop. Not only will you get a better idea of his musical repertoire, but you will gain some practical ideas for use in the classroom. He also has similar songs available en español. I'm telling you, his music has forever changed the way I approach French teaching and made it so much more enjoyable to teach and learn. His music has totally earned the Toronto Teacher Mom Seal of Approval.
You can learn more about Étienne and his music and tour dates by visiting Educorock.com or connect with Étienne on Facebook.
Update: Etienne's music is so catchy, even Justin Bieber is singing his songs!