Spilling out of Room A211 comes gentle music, laughter, and the flow of French. Madame Miller, one of ELHS’s most beloved language teachers, helps her students acquire French the natural way, finding inspiration in her young children learning English.
“I’ve been so fascinated with how they [my kids] acquire language,” Ms. Miller said. Talking slowly, repetition, and plenty of exposure to French are tools Ms. Miller carries over to the classroom to teach her students.
“She understands that reading a bunch of stuff from a textbook won’t be helpful or effective,” said French 3H student, sophomore Adam Dickie.“The class feels almost like home.”
Ms. Miller wants her room to be a place where students can be comfortable not knowing all the words, spellings, and definitions.
“This is how humans acquire language. It’s not Physics, it’s not mathematics. Brains are equipped specially for language development, and these things are not activated by grammar lists,” Ms. Miller said.
Ms. Miller presents students with French and allows them to piece together what they know. Though the students may not get every word, Ms. Miller believes this kind of ambiguity has a place.
“I want [the students] to be uncomfortable, and then get used to it,” Ms. Miller said.
To assess her student’s development, Ms. Miller looks for cues like “responding to French” and having a happy, attentive attitude.
The way her students respond to her teaching is the ultimate claim to her style.
“It’s different. I love it though,” said her student, sophomore Lily Massung. “It feels like you aren’t learning, but you are.”
Ms. Miller isn’t the only ELHS language teacher making changes. The language wing has been quickly putting down textbooks to create their own unique curriculums.