The French program was concerned that the price of our textbook and its online support seemed to increase on a yearly basis. Our program instructors were familiar with Français Interactif, so we decided this was a sound approach.
FI offers a learning sequence which is quite different from our previous textbooks, so many extra activities had to be developed.
The textbook solely offers vocabulary lists and exercises. Grammar is only presented online on the FI Website. PowerPoint presentations were developed for each chapter. They expand on the grammatical content of each chapter, and offer extra exercises.
Our previous methods came with an online support. Resources were developed using Google tools to provide students with homework practice. This included over 40 Google forms and a Google Classroom where students can turn in their assignments.
FI includes many videos, but their worksheets need to be printed out. Dozens of Google forms were developed that incorporated the questions on the FI worksheets.
I organized our Blackboard platform so that the material is easy to find. I have also posted a Powerpoint presentation that explains how FI is organized.
Teaching and Learning Impact:
Some students find the layout of the FI Website a little disorienting. I have a Powerpoint presentation on Blackboard that gives them a virtual tour of the Website. Some students have also complained that the book does not include explanations on French grammar.
However, students are relieved not to have to purchase the book. Some choose to download it on their laptop or tablet. About two thirds of the class are using their smartphones only. I fear this might be detrimental to their learning process, but they have said that they loved that they always have their phones with them.
Overall, students’ success is similar to that in previous classes where we used Voilà. The retention rate seems to be slightly higher.
Last, students seem to be happy to find that, should they choose to buy FI, it is not only a cheap textbook, it is also used in the subsequent two courses of first-year French.
In my opinion, FI needs to be supplemented with lecture notes and additional activities, but it is an efficient tool when used properly.
Comment from student: I chose to use my iPhone and my laptop because I am very tech savvy and any notes will be forever saved in MyCloud drives wherever I go. I hope the same system is used next quarter because of its clean organization, effectiveness and convenience.