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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices

French: Chicken Pox Class Context

A lot of the teaching at this age level starts and ends with songs. That is a way for children to access the language, and one way we teach them to read. Most of the songs we sing in class have text to go with them. By the end of last year, the children had learned the curriculum using over 70 songs.

– Jai Scott




Songs; Body Parts; Colors; Numbers


Parts of the Classroom

Letter of the Week (ongoing)

The Farm

Science Unit (buoyancy)


National French Week


Winter Holidays

Winter (clothing, weather, sports)

Journal Writing (start writing)

Black History Month

100th Day of School

Valentine’s Day

Spring; Flowers

Prepare for School Performance

Food (fruits and vegetables)

Change of Seasons


The Community and Transportation

The Zoo

School Profile

Jai Scott teaches kindergarten at Ecole Kenwood, a K-8 French immersion school in Columbus, Ohio. At the Kenwood School, instruction is in French, so that the school’s 400 students learn to read, write, and speak French as they learn the standard curriculum mandated by the Columbus Public Schools. When students leave Kenwood, they receive two Carnegie Units (high school credits) in French. Students also study Spanish in grades 6-8, for which they receive one Carnegie Unit. The following table shows what percentage of each day students spend learning in French and in English at each grade level:

Grade Percentage of Day in French Percentage of Day in English
K-1 100%
2 80% 20%
3 70% 30%
4 60% 40%
5-8 50% 50%


Lesson Design

When designing his lessons, Mr. Scott refers to the Columbus Public Schools Benchmarks, which are aligned with the Ohio Academic Content Standards (see Resources). The focus of each lesson is the academic content, with French as the means of instruction. Mr. Scott’s students study the same sequence of units studied by all kindergartners in Columbus. However, because his students must understand the content in a new language, Mr. Scott, who is certified to teach elementary school, relies more heavily on visuals, hand gestures, repetition, songs, and movement to make meaning clear than he might in an elementary classroom taught in English. These strategies also meet the different learning styles of his young students and retain their attention during a full-day class.

The Lesson

In this lesson, students studied vocabulary for the different parts of the body while reading a story and singing a song about the chicken pox. Some students knew about the chicken pox from personal experience, and students had learned some of the body parts vocabulary in a previous lesson. Some also knew initial letter sounds in English, which helped them recognize the corresponding vocabulary words in French. The class next moved on to a lesson about the common cold.

Key Teaching Strategies

  • Developing Literacy: In a primarily oral class, the teacher begins to show the sound/symbol correspondence in written alphabetic languages. (In character languages such as Chinese, students develop connections between oral vocabulary and the character with the same meaning.)
  • Establishing Routines: The teacher establishes clear, expected routines to maximize productive class time, increase student responsibility, and minimize distractions or opportunities for misbehavior. Examples range from consistent procedures to begin the class (from discussing the day, date, and weather for today, yesterday, and tomorrow to having students pair up to craft one comment about a prompt or a visual) to cooperative learning activities for language practice to routines for providing peer feedback.
  • Storytelling: The teacher communicates the meaning of a story by paraphrasing the text in the target language and showing its illustrations, while frequently checking for learner comprehension and reaction.

Series Directory

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices