Archived — Recipient Bios

Year: 1998 – Province: Ontario

Certificate of Achievement Recipients

Wendy Maxwell

School: The Bishop Strachan School

Principal: Susan Barter
School website:
Grades/Subjects Taught: Elementary French as a second language

Teaching approach:

  • Integrate the learning of French language with drama and literature to motivate students and promote creativity.
  • Use a teaching program in which children work cooperatively in small groups, organized so that the stronger students in the group help the weaker ones. Such a program is interactive, highly participatory and inherently repetitive, giving students plenty of opportunity to use and practise the language.
  • Once students reach a certain level of fluency, engage them in creating and acting out, improvisationally, their own stories and dramas.

Outstanding achievements:

Developed a highly successful program of language teaching based on storytelling and drama that helps students think sequentially in a second language, builds a rich, contextualized vocabulary, and promotes oral language skills and written skills simultaneously.

Developed a teaching device called Pared Down Language (PDL), or essential language, to help students gain an immediate functional grasp of the language. For example, rather than introducing verbs from a grammatical viewpoint, they are presented via the "regularized stem" naturally used by native speakers of French when they are acquiring language as infants.

Published three books of plays based on French songs or folk tales, with volumes of accompanying activities to stimulate students' imagination. Now used by teachers across Canada.

Students frequently place first in public-speaking contests, locally and provincially.

Rave reviews:

"Wendy Maxwell's approach to teaching French is one that French teachers, like myself, have been waiting for." Nominator

"Ms. Maxwell has helped my daughter, in Grade 2, achieve an above-average knowledge of the French language, and instilled in her a tremendous enthusiasm for learning." Parent

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