Empowering Students: My Thoughts on Attending the BELC Regional University Course

(By Wendy Davis, French)


This was the first time a workshop of this type has ever been hosted on African soil and there were teachers from 16 countries throughout Africa. The French Ambassador was in attendance at the closing ceremony and it was a great honour to be a part of this inspiring week.

The first module I followed was “Changing classroom techniques in order to empower students.”  During this course, I was immediately thrown out of my usual comfort zone and could no longer say, “But my way has always worked!” Over the next 15 hours our group of 28 worked on various ways of presenting or facilitating the production of different projects.  This was very exciting and certainly opened my eyes to the fact that teaching really has to take into account individual strengths and weakness of all students and it has to empower the students in different ways.

The second module I followed – again for 15 hours – was introducing exciting technology into the French language classroom. We were shown apps to organise apps, apps to edit sounds and make sounds, apps to mindmap, and many, many more.  So many that we were running around sharing resources, putting stuff onto USBs for later consultation and there was an incredible air of excitement among the group. The culmination of this workshop was that each group of 8/9 teachers was tasked with producing a radio programme – from the jingle to introduce the show, to the interviews, the adverts, the weather reports, etc. Each member of the group had a different role to play. We had to do our own sound editing, produce our own material and eventually have it recorded.  It is now available as a podcast!  This is something I am determined to put into practice with some of our classes.

The closing ceremony and cocktail party was held at the South African Museum in the Company Gardens and the French Ambassadress flew down to present each participant with a certificate of competence.

I am extremely grateful that I had this opportunity and I hope to share some of what I learnt with the other second language teachers at our school.