French Conversation Club

Club Overview

The conversation club was an online French-speaking club that met for an hour once a week for five weeks in a row from February - March 2022. During the meetings, we spoke entirely in French and played a series of different drama games that could be adapted to different classrooms and grade levels. Some activities included: inside/outside circle; Lifeboat; Mini-debate; One-sentence story; Create an everyday Ad, etc. Participants were also given access to a Shared Folder which held different linguistic and pedagogical resources that they could consult. During the club, participants discussed different ways to adapt and integrate activities that they participated in into their own FSL placements and classrooms.

The Conversation Club was designed based on the need for more linguistic practice for teacher candidates. Both teacher candidates and profs called for this. Further, it was developed with the idea of creating activities that teacher candidates could integrate into their classrooms to help them develop their PKS and their LP simultaneously. Lastly, CP was a large part of the club, which was premised on sharing and working together.


Participants were all from York University with the exception of one former York University student. Participants all appeared to be women, except one person (they were not required to identify their gender). There were 3 people who appeared to be racially minoritized (they were not required to identify their race). Participation ranged from week to week, usually about 10 people came. One session, where the time had to be moved, only had 4 participants. Participants received a 10$ gift card per session they attended and a certificate if they attended ⅘ sessions. Only 5 people received a certificate.  


Impact and feedback from the participants

Participants thanked our facilitator and stated that it was very helpful and fun. One respondent said that this was their favourite pilot project that we offered and the one that they would recommend to all others. They really appreciated the space and the ability to speak French outside of the classroom. They said it positively impacted the development of their spontaneous French and using activities to target certain language goals. If planning a workshop or club like this, having a grammar goal per session would be recommended because it not only helps teacher candidates improve their French, but can also model for them how to use language authentically with students.  


“These are activities I can envision myself incorporating in my own classroom”.  


By participating in the actual games and activities that they might do with students, they realized where they would have challenges, what might need to be adapted and what worked and didn’t work in the activities. This learning by doing seems to be missing from their education. 

“It’s rare to have the opportunity to converse with friends and peers in French outside of the classroom environment. More importantly, it’s not easy to find a space in which I feel comfortable and not judged for making mistakes – the Conversation Club was that space for me.” 

It was clear that there was a need to have a space to practice French that wasn’t the classroom and the venues where this is currently offered at York University were not welcoming spaces for FSL teacher candidates. To one respondent, it was important that a club like this not be a required space because that would mean that it might be less of a safe space and also it would add stress to students. They preferred it as a drop-in add on. 


The conversation club did not seem to impact much of the teacher candidates' identity, apart from adding to their toolkit (PKS) and developing their spontaneous French (LP). They said that they felt their understanding of others got better and felt more connected, but this was not the emphasis of their feedback. 

Conversation Club Outline