Christian Taylor Honican

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Christian Taylor Honican

1002 Patterson Office Tower

University of Kentucky

Lexington,KY 40506-0027

(859) 257-5723


M.A. in-progress, French, University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), expected 2015

B.A, French, University of Kentucky, (Lexington, KY), 2013

B.A, English, University of Kentucky, (Lexington, KY), 2013


Fall 2013: One section of FR 101 (Beginning French), University of Kentucky

Microteach sample:

Teaching Enhancement Activities

Fall 2013: University-wide TA Orientation with Microteaching; Departmental TA orientation; FR553 (Teaching of French; 3 credit hours); Kentucky World Language Association Conference (seminars pertaining to proficiency and contextual based teaching methods)

Academic Associations

Sigma Tau Delta (English literature and language): 2012

Teaching Philosophy
Ideally, world language instruction should foster the personal improvement and the growing identity of its students, as demonstrated in a quote by Charlemagne that reads, “To know another language is to have a second soul”. The quote is somewhat idealistic, somewhat romantic in character, but addressing students as potential members of a target language community has many advantages, as opposed to traditional translation methods that do not imagine a second identity nor give students an opportunity to interact personally with the target culture, or methods that completely ignore the life experiences and needs that students encounter in their native language/culture. I will highlight the skills and solutions such an intercultural and communicative approach fosters in students, but I would first like to start with a scenario.
Students have recently learned vocabulary on weather and leisure activities, and are now able to read a meteorological map of France. They are then given an activity in which they give advice to fictional tourists wanting to do certain activities (skiing, fishing, sailing, etc); it is now up to the student to communicate the best choice of location for this activity. Not only does it assess the vocab previously introduced, it also introduces a geographical and culture knowledge of different French regions, sometimes forces students to compare choices, saying that one town is better than another for that day, and draws the students in to give their own opinions. A follow-up activity addresses this issue further, when students are asked to choose an activity and a place they themselves would like to visit, giving them a chance to role-play the tourist who has already been introduced.
As such, I see the following elements as tantamount to effective language instruction: 1). Motivation based in personal choice, 2). Real-life and useful situations that foster students’ ability to navigate this newly experienced context, 3). Feeling involved in a larger cultural community based through interpersonal communication, and 4.) An appreciation of the contrast between the native and target cultures, between similar and contrasting opinions, between preferences and disgusts. If one sets these guidelines for their students in activities and in course goals, they not only learn to think critically (one place is better than another), to develop the four communication skills (I need to express this difference), to become confident in their expression (I’m comfortable negotiating meaning of the utterance I want to speak), they also develop a second identity (I myself have competence enough to be a speaking subject of the target language/culture).
I set myself these guidelines in the classroom, usually focusing on presenting learning strategies first in one of the four skills, such as scanning for familiar words in a spoken text, guessing meaning based on context in reading exercises, elucidating pronunciation in certain phrases to give students confidence in speaking activities, and showing how formulaic phrases can be recycled in writing activities. After the strategies are presented, students usually can be challenged to communicate, but occasionally they need more input. At these points I model, I show images, pantomime the action, ask the other students to help clarify meaning. In short, I show students that they indeed can speak French and problem-solve solutions for a context that challenges their critical skills.

However from my own personality and experiences, I recognize that language breakdown is inevitable in any language classroom, (in my case, it is a regular phenomenon even in my native language). Thus English use is occasionally helpful to save students from unnecessary frustration: possible causes are differences in learning styles, in life experiences, or a misunderstanding in the directions of an activity. Grammar too is regarded as a somewhat controversial subject, but I believe that certain formulaic phrases can make students confident in their skills and illustrate how grammar works meaningfully in the target language. Although I earned a degree in English, it was the study of linguistics and French that brought about a deeper understanding of structures in my native English. This is particularly useful in my conception of the French composition process I use; I attempt to not translate structures but rather negotiate meaning in French constructions so as to benefit from certain grammatical features that English just doesn’t have, or would seem stylistically inappropriate. At higher levels of proficiency, I would teach students a similar set of strategies: use conventional constructions in place of a translational model, you’ll benefit by staying in the language and not exerting so much effort when translations are impossible.

To summarize, building off the metaphor just introduced of composition, the second language must be placed in context to the first, rather than displaced or dominated. When writing French, one mustn’t seek a transposed English but a French that puts the writer in control of meaning and style that signals that the speaker has confidence and competency to address the context. This suggests the idea as well that students possess a second identity that must be fostered alongside the first. The second has skills necessary to navigate the target language culture, but which can be brought into the first identity so as to benefit the person’s professional and personal life. But more importantly, getting students to recognize this identity from the beginning of instruction draws them into a personal engagement with the target culture, thus giving them a substantial intrinsic motivation to improve their proficiency. I do not mean to suggest identity will provide the skills necessary to communicate, but that identity unifies the individual to their target language community. Identity functions as a proxy through which language skills are practiced, and gives students an attractive and useful goal based around the expectations of an educational environment that prizes career polyvalence and adaptability. In this way, the four guidelines I previously introduced have both real world utility in the job market, and contribute to cultural and linguistic competency in the classroom, which in itself functions as a proxy: putting language and humanities skills in relation and in meaningful dialogue to what is publically considered a non-humanities working culture.
Lesson Plan/Speaking Activity
Goal: Students can express actions they did yesterday (Passé composé)
How is this testable: Students tell the instructor or classmates what they did over the weekend
How will this be tested: Students engage in pair work in order to find out what the other partner has done over the weekend. A follow-up activity then allows the partner to narrate a story around past actions of their partners.

Mins Into


Activity Descrip.

:00 (5)

Class business: handing back attendance slips, announcements, meeting with students, showing videos, setting up powerpoint

(remember to ask about cultural context week next week)

:5 (15)

Introduction and modeling: show passé composé (just avoir for now, etre will be a separate lesson). Then have them do the “Est-ce que vous connaissez bien votre professeur?” with you as a class

Students guess what instructor did over the weekend based on stereotypes (mult. choice.)

:20 (15)

Pratique: Students now use the passé composé in question and answer forms in order to share their past weekend. Once done with exchange, have some pairs share to the class. Maybe pose some general questions to see if anyone has done something but doesn’t want to be singled out (maybe even reverse order to build confidence)

Students may want to brainstorm some actions to be more confident (call back to leisure activites and past-times in the city, stuff they already know)

:35 (10)

Follow-Up: Students imagine a scenario where they see their partner doing the action they told them that they were doing. But also have them tell a little about what they themselves did over the weekend.

Students will need the phrase “J’ai vu”. Have them turn in these writings. Copy the slides where we brainstormed actions, present instructions still though!

:45 (5)

Wrap up: Have students check off the objectives and turn in their sheets

(remember they have writing to turn in)

Lesson Plan/Writing Activity

Goal: Students can say how they’ve changed within a year

How is this testable: Students draw comparisons between the past and the present using the passé composé

How will this be tested: Students do an activity that has them communicate these changes to a partner (or to a hypothetical person in the form of a letter)

Mins Into


Activity Descrip.

:00 (5)

Class business: handing back attendance slips, announcements, meeting with students, showing videos, setting up powerpoint

:5 (10)

Introduction and modeling: Go over passé composé again (still avoir, but maybe give some irregular verb practice). Then use this as a bridge to “L’année dernière” activity

Students use context to say how typical study abroad students have changed over the year (L’année dernière)

:15 (15)

Pratique: Remind students about previous day’s activity (talking about past weekend). Now have them do this with their life in the last year. Model some of your own changes, ask if anyone has gone on a big trip. Then have students in groups of three talk about these changes

Students talk about the changes in their life, and then say to what degree they’ve changed. If they’ve changed a lot, have them say, since I’ve come to college. Otherwise ask them if they do these things in the past habitually

:30 (15)

Follow-Up: Students write to their future selves about an event that they’d like to remember. Students may be more engaged if they are given a mad libs like sheet, must avoid fill in the blank formations.

Students complete a scenario given to them based on a personality stereotype. The sheet then asks them to find an ‘old friend’ (student partner) and ask them about themselves

:45 (5)

Wrap up: Have students check off the objectives and turn in their sheets

Reading Activity

Topics/ Subject Keywords: Clothing
Prep/Materials: Clothing items from the unit, typical items that students wear are nice starting points. Then teach clothing that are outside of their experiences (suits, sport coats, dresses and skirts if the weather is cold outside, etc). The verb porter should also be introduced. Activity text ( If link does not work, any current fashion article can be substituted.
Before/First Reading: Give them the context of this article, ask them what they expect from what they’ve seen in magazines or on TV with such programs as TMZ. Maybe show some pictures of the celebrity and how stylish they are before proceeding onto the reading. Give students knowledge questions that test what facts they’ve gleaned from the article (what was the person wearing, etc.).
Second Reading: Have them identify qualities of the clothes, like labels and price. That is to say ask them questions that makes them evaluate the clothes, which incorporates vocabulary from previous lessons in descriptive adjectives. Maybe even ask students what they think of the celebrity and their clothes as a transition into teaching personal preferences.
After: Continue evaluative questions but focus on personalizing the questions, that is have students express opinions and discuss their preferences in groups or partners.
Follow-Up: Have the students write a fashion article where they are the star. Maybe have them work in groups to go through the steps of the writing process (Brainstorm, draft, present). Then collect the articles and ‘publish’ them as a magazine and have students read an electronic copy for homework. Have the students come into class the next day and ask them questions based on this student generated reading.
Listening Activity
Topics/Subject key words: Placing an order, personal preference, prices/money
Prep/Materials: Vocab specific to the unit used as a background (clothing, types of food, furniture are good lexicons). Have students also know how to use the conditional tense, such as the formulaic phrases, “Je voudrais” or “Je préférais”. See follow-up for description of a hand-out.
Before Listening/first listen: Tell students the scenario is two people discussing items on a menu or in a store. They eventually discuss why they prefer one item over the other and check out with a clerk. Have students focus on finding the preference of these actors for this item. Have them reflect on stores they have gone to themselves and relate them to the store in the scenario so they know what to expect as far as item price and quality.

EX. “Je le préfère parce qu’il est moins cher que celui-là.”

During Listening: Now have students find the why, why do these actors prefer one thing to another? Have them comment of the price or the quality of the item to get their own opinions forming, but also provide them motivation to see it from the actors’ point of view.
After: Ask students if the people have made a good purchase according to their opinions. Maybe imagine the actors are tourists and have a set budget, does this purchase fit into this budget? Ask students how much they would like to spend/buy while travelling abroad.
Follow-Up: Have students imagine travelling abroad on a set budget. In order to help them organize their spending and express preferences, have them write a wish list, to themselves or maybe a family member financing this trip, buying items similar to those in the activity. Give them a list of items from they can buy with realistic prices in the target language. (Be sure not to give them too much money or they’ll be silly and buy everything they want instead of having to express preference).
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