Kathryn Wilbur: Being a French Teacher in Fort-Myers, Florida
e-Toile: Ms. Kathryn Wilbur, you are a French teacher at Eastside High School in Gainesville. So you’re on the ground, in touch with the realities of learning a foreign language, French in this case at a high school in Florida.
What can you tell us about this vocation, the pleasure but also the obstacles you face?
Kathryn Wilbur: The pleasure of teaching any subject is to be close to young people every day - to share their energy, their curiosity, their eagerness to grow.
The obstacte of teaching French is that we must teach competencies before content unless we switch between languages which relies on the motivation of students and the teacher’s ability to inspire.
When this fails, there is a "disconnect" in the partnership.
With today’s globalization and the increased awareness and popularity of the French culture, teaching French has evolved in my classroom, it is a rebirth.
e-Toile: You have been working as a Teacher for many years, how would you rate the evolution of the teaching of French in your school and, more generally, in Florida?
Kathryn Wilbur: I would rate the evolution as excellent. There are many opportunities offered by the FFLA and the AATF for professional development and the introduction of internet ressources into the classroom as revolutionized teaching.
Unlike years ago, when teachers had to buy expensive videos or auditory programs, today’s francophone world is a keyboard away!
e-Toile: You are a member of the Association of French Teachers in Florida, A.A.T.F. Is it an important relay for your action?
Kathryn Wilbur: The AATF, as I stated before, offers professional development opportunities.
I have attended their conferences in St. Louis and in Montreal and found both extremely useful to my teaching.
The AATF also, maintains a website. I have used this website to download instructional material for my AP French Language and Culture class. The website also keeps teachers informed of important calendar dates and francophone events. It’s mission - to create a national community of French teachers - is successful.
e-Toile: The Congress of the French Culture will be held in Florida for the 60th time in Orlando from17 to 19 March. How do you evaluate this event, synonymous with influence of France and French in the education system in Florida?
Kathryn Wilbur: I have attended workshops in other states and have spoken about the Congres de la Culture Francaise en Floride.
Two years ago, at Gaucher College, in particular, teachers were amazed that we had such an opportunity for our students and wished they had this in their states.
I have sponsored a team for about fifteen years to compete at the "Congres" and words can not express how much this competition contributes to student interest in learning French.
They love to compete and show off their skills. The Congres team at Canterbury is so popular that we actually have to do try-outs and have team officers.
Two teachers and a French-speaking parent coach our students. We organize the team early in the year. I am very grateful for the volunteerism of French teachers like Anita Spassoff and others who give so much of their time to make this opportunity available to my students.
If exciting children about learning French is a part of the educational system - then Congres is truly synonymous with the education system.
To know more about the "Congres de la culture française en Floride":