A new way to practice French

By: Tyler Clifton, Guest Writer

Xavier’s French Department is trying new and creative ways to help its students practice their speaking this semester with “La Table.” For an hour, students are able to speak to a professor outside of class and practice the language in a pressure-free environment.

According to the project’s coordinator and French professor Dr. Johann Le Guelte, this program strives to provide students an opportunity to hone their conversational skill, a crucial aspect of mastering a foreign language.

“With hybrid instruction and with wearing a mask, it has been more difficult for some students, and we realize that,” Le Guelte said. 

In this low-pressure environment, students are able to take what they have learned in the classroom and work through any particular words or phrases that are giving them trouble. Professors have no expectation that students will speak fluently as soon as they log onto Zoom. Rather, professors hope to identify areas that students need to improve upon and focus on those areas. The meetings are run by French professors one at a time in a rotating schedule.

 Professor Rebecca Deaton teaches a French class. 

If a student is feeling nervous about asking a question in class or is struggling with their homework, the program’s leaders hope La Table is an opportunity to vocalize what part of the assignment is giving them trouble and identify the information needed to complete the assignment.

Students not only work individually with a professor, but are also able to practice their speaking with other students if there are enough students logged onto the Zoom. La Guelte noted that attendance for these sessions has varied as the French Department continues to spread the word about this opportunity.

The French Department encourages students to attend these meetings for the benefit that comes through conversational practice, as well as extra credit opportunities that are available for active participation. Le Guelte explained that after twenty minutes of instruction where a student actively participates in  La Table, they receive extra credit.

Some students in the French program, or “Francophones” as Le Guelte endearingly nicknamed his students, noted their appreciation for this resource. 

“It’s nice to have that resource available to talk with other French students of any level, because it gives you a better understanding of the French language than you would have otherwise,” French minor Eryn Martin said.

This program is looking to transition to an in-person experience soon, with the hope that there will be plenty of students gathered around “La Table.”