Here are the steps I took to help build these communities:
1. Remove the furniture. Before desks and chairs prohibited my students to move freely and pair up with a maximum number of different partners or groups. By speaking to various people during the class period, students can move outside their comfort zones and use different vocabulary to find out about each other's interests, thoughts, and experiences. Students write in composition books, on post-its, or on index cards while in the circle which allows for more sharing, and ultimately, growth.
2. Encourage silly games, touch, and movement. While silly games encourage students to take risks and see one another in a different light, they also provide an opportunity to take a necessary break from the intensity of an immersion experience while remaining in French. Touch pushes the students to challenge their comfort level, and movement keeps their minds sharp while encouraging other forms of communication. Acting out a vocabulary term is one of the three skills taught in the class to stay in the target language, along with drawing and circumlocution.
Creating a community that applauds mistakes, encourages students to laugh at themselves, and supports a safe risk-taking environment has pushed my students to embrace a growth mindset. They understand that in order to achieve their language proficiency goals, they have to get messy with the language, ask for help, develop a persistence for understanding, and figure out new strategies to communicate their thoughts and opinions. The class community is the safety net that supports each student in the process.
Thank you for your continued support. Merci beaucoup!