French Q&A: French assessment tests, practicums, AQ courses and more!

Some of the most common questions that I get are all related to French--How do I get qualified, what's the process, what to prepare, is it worth it, etc. This post is dedicated to ALL of those questions. So sit back and relax as I answer them all 100% honestly.

Note: As I am a student within the MACSE program, I can only answer these questions based on my own experiences and the program's policies. The requirements and procedures may vary for the MT program, and even within the MACSE program year-to-year.

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I want to teach in a French practicum while at OISE. What do I have to do?

Great question! I have already written a detailed blog post about the steps that one needs to follow. Essentially, there's just three main things: 1) Take the French Proficiency Test that is offered periodically at UofT. 2) Complete a French AQ course. 3) Tell your practicum coordinator that you are interested in teaching in French. Easy peasy! The only piece of advice that I'd give is to be aware of the timing. All three of these steps do require a bit of scheduling, especially as both the French proficiency test and the AQ courses are only offered during select periods throughout the year. Do your research and don't miss the deadlines!

Can you take the French AQ course while still enrolled as a student teacher in the program?

Yes! Actually, it's the ONLY AQ course that you're allowed to take while still a student teacher at OISE. So don't hesitate, because we all know that the FSL Part 1 looks great on your resume when you are applying to jobs.

Are there any courses offered in French for those interested? Do the professors also provide examples of French resources or teaching strategies?

Unfortunately, no. The MACSE is a very specific program that is tailored towards teaching students in a child-centric, inquiry-based way. As a result, all our courses centre around that principle. The lens through which our course materials and resources is taught is also not French-focused, and naturally, that means not as many opportunities to fill up your French resources toolkit. However, I would argue that a decent amount of teaching strategies/resources can be transferred.

Note: As for the MT program, I am uncertain if French is taught explicitly, so things might differ!

Should I prepare ahead of time for my French assessment tests?

Yes and no. It definitely does not hurt to brush up on your French grammar/oral speaking skills leading up to the tests, but you truly don't need to study for it. The OISE proficiency test is definitely long, but it is not grammar-focused. For me, I only set aside the recommended time (3 hours), and just cranked it out. If anything, going into these assessment tests completely "green" would be the most accurate reflection of your skills, thereby you won't ever feel that you got a result that you don't deserve.

What was the OISE French Proficiency Test like?

In all honesty, the test was not difficult. It was just long and tiring. For the first section, rather than testing on French grammar, it consisted of approximately 16 short answer questions on teaching practice. There were various texts or videos that we needed to read/watch, and from there, we were expected to respond to them. The second portion of the interview was just an oral conversation over Skype with an assessor. I know this info sounds slightly frightening but in all honesty, the most 'difficult' part of the test was figuring out logistics, such as when or how to take the test, and scheduling the interview call.

How did you find the AQ FSL Part 1 course?

Great! I had the opportunity to take the AQ course last year in July of 2019. There was an intensive course option available, which consisted of 3 weeks' worth of blended class learning. For me, it was my one stop shop to come into contact with lots of free French resources for teachers. Once again, the course is mostly focused on how to teach French to all students, rather than on the content knowledge. Also, like all teacher education courses, expect lots of collaboration and group work, because that's what teaching life is going to be like!

Are there any extra steps to complete when applying to the school boards?

Yes! Guess what... it's another french assessment test! So far, I have only completed the French Assessment test with the York Region District School Board and for that, it took approximately 1 hour in total. For the York Region test, there was a grammar and spelling section, in addition to short answers and an oral interview. When OISE had their Career Fair last December, the YRDSB was doing ongoing assessments on site so I jumped on the opportunity and did it right here! The timing could not have been more perfect.

Is it true that French teachers are still in demand?

Oh yes. Especially as the school year goes on, not only are French classroom teachers in demand, but it also becomes increasingly difficult to find French speaking supply teachers. That being said, please think very carefully before getting your French AQ certification. If you don't want to spend the rest of your life teaching French (which will very likely happen), don't do it!

In the coming weeks, I plan to further expand on French teaching experiences, so stay tuned!