Developing academic literacy for students learning a foreign language in PYP can be challenging. Many students already have difficulties writing in English, and consider writing in French to be more difficult than speaking or understanding. I planned a writing activity in Grade 5 and my objective was to make them be engaged and reflective in their writing. After learning how to ask and answer questions about food, they learned how to offer food to people in view of inviting their parents for a breakfast at school. The writing that they completed in class was a letter that each student would send to their parents to invite them. The students had a real purpose for writing and understood that the language choices should suit the purpose as well as the specific audience.
Even if dealing with the use of verbs in the present tense could sound difficult, they had a check-list of what structure and language features could be used. For example, all the verbs available were ‘er’ verbs so that they could conjugate them by themselves.
They’ve also been able to see the difference between the written and spoken modes of communication, for example with the use of greetings.
They showed creativity when they decorated their letters.
After writing their letter, the students asked me spontaneously to practice their reading as some parents know a bit of French.
I planned other authentic writing activities to enhance students’ academic literacy and a positive mindset towards writing in the target language.