When I began this partnership with Nicolas Houpert and the Lycée Bazin, I would have never imagined the impact it would have on my students. Our students are digital natives. They have grown up surrounded by technology and they are very comfortable using technology. As a result of their technological knowledge, teachers need to provide their students with the tools they need to be successful. After my first trip to the computer lab with my students, I quickly learned that the students thrived off of using the technology. Not only were they communicating and functioning in a manner that they are very comfortable with, but they were also applying their knowledge of French to real life situations. Foreign Language learning needs to be active. It is not rote memorization and paper/pencil exercises. Having laptops in the classroom allows my students to have first-hand experience with native French speakers on a daily basis. It also allows them to function in a way that they are most comfortable. My students’ French has greatly improved by giving them the opportunity to utilize technology to communicate with our partner school on a daily basis.
School-to-school partnerships will become an important part of Foreign Language learning in the years to come. In addition to bringing students from different backgrounds together for a shared purpose, distance learning promotes collaboration, cooperation, problem solving, and critical thinking, which are, and will continue to be, among the most important skill sets for students in the 21st century. I will continue to make connections across the globe with schools that share my interest and enthusiasm for collaboration, ensuring that my students are poised for success in a rapidly evolving global community.
Amy Poehler summed up the power of partnerships and collaboration best during a speech at Harvard, “As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” By making the global connection, we have created an atmosphere that any foreign language teacher would want and have created a partnership that will last a lifetime.