An Editorial That Needs To Be Read

I’ll be clear right from the start.  I enjoy technology as much as the next guy.  It’s been a great facilitator for my own learning for my entire life.  It made for a significant part of my professional life.

I’m in the middle of teaching myself a new programming language right now.  The going is slow because I’m doing the tutorials on computer and it requires all of my focus and a devotion of time to pull it off.  As much as I’d like to be able to become fluent in it, I like to think that I’m human and enjoy doing just about anything else except study.

So, it was with concern that I read this story in the news this week.

Lacking a human French teacher, New Frontiers School Board turns to language software

The response from the school district is to be predicted.  No educational organization will admit to settling for second best for their students.  Unqualified in a particular subject area happens all the time with occasional teachers but that passes.  The lessons are prepared by a qualified teacher and the qualified occasional teacher will do their best teachng for that moment in time.  This isn’t a condemnation of the computer software either.  Rosetta Stone has a long record of providing language learning instruction.  It’s long been a choice for people planning to travel to other countries or language teachers to supplement the regular instruction in their classroom.

For me, it’s the notion that a teacher can be replaced by a piece of software.  

There’s more to learning a language than just walking in step through a curriculum.  Second language teachers that I know always build in an element of culture and conversation to impress upon students that their learning isn’t just a regurgitation of content.  All passionate teachers put their subject area in context to impress upon students its importance.

So, it was with a smile on my face that I read this editorial this morning from the same newspaper, the Montreal Gazette.  I would encourage you to read it.

Editorial: Students require a real French teacher

It’s an editorial that I wish I’d written.  Passionate, factual, and to the point.  There is a job posting on the New Frontiers School Board website for this position.  I hope that the news of this spreads and that there’s a replacement to be hired.  Perhaps a recent graduate who can’t find a job now?  Success in a temporary job can result in a permanent position.

In the meantime, the kids deserve to have a teacher in that classroom.



  1. Thanks, Doug. That’s a pretty scary development, in the province of Quebec, for an FSL teacher like me. The Gazette editorial is wonderful. I use technology in my classroom – sometimes for fun, sometimes to enhance, sometimes to help my students become more comfortable with a particular tool, sometimes to engage, always to move our learning forward – the ability to provide real-world audio and video examples for my students is huge. But, I can’t imagine how some of my students would really improve their communicative, problem-solving ability in their second language without a human being to interact with.


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