Senior lecturer and convenor of the French Studies program
I teach French language and contemporary French and francophone literature and film. My geographic interest is in francophone Southeast Asia, and in January 2019 I will convene HUMN2004: Global Vietnam: Gender, Labour and Migration in Hanoi, Vietnam.
A key element of my approach is to teach students how to fail successfully, that is, to see taking risks and making mistakes in the language-learning classroom as essential to the long-term goal of successfully using the French language. This willingness to fail is not limited to language learning, however; it also encourages students to venture interpretations of literary and cinematic texts and to revise – or defend – those interpretations when challenged by myself or other classmates. In both contexts, I encourage students to reflect on their mistakes, to ask why something was wrong and how it might be corrected or improved upon. I encourage them to see mistakes as learning opportunities, not only for themselves but also for their fellow classmates. I don’t expect all my students to become fluent in French, but I do want them to learn to fail without seeing themselves as failures – this, I think, is essential to fostering the creative thinking that will serve them well in the future.
I think the most important thing I’ve learned is the power of a good team. In the French program and in my first-year course, I’ve worked hard to create a strong team atmosphere where all members are valued and respected. And I’ve been lucky to work with committed and capable people who also encourage solidarity and a sense of responsibility to our students and each other, and who are always willing to give or take a bit of advice. It hasn’t always been my experience, and I am grateful for this team. I think it also translates into strong, supportive classroom environments, where our students are thriving.
Peer Observation Thoughts
I recently sat in casually on a number of classes in my School and had two very different experiences. In one instance, I found myself rethinking the way I paced my tutorial discussion groups; in another, I felt I could make a few suggestions that would make the classroom more dynamic and student-focused. Both experiences really pushed me to examine my own practice. And in the process, I realized just how much we can learn not from listening to each other talk about teaching, but from watching each other in the classroom. I’d like to see everyone take part in this observation program at least once and walk away with an idea or two and a sense that they’d developed a new and productive professional relationship.
Name: Leslie Barnes
School: School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics
College: College of Arts and Social Sciences
Department: French Studies
Phone: (02) 6125 1879