Heidi Trude

Skyline High School
Front Royal, VA
2019 Finalist from SCOLT

In today’s global society, it is essential that our students are not only learning a language, but are also developing cultural competence. Within my classroom, I feel that all students can learn a language and can develop an understanding of the world around them. Teaching in a small rural county in Virginia where many of my students come from low socio-economic backgrounds, I find that it is my job to open my students eyes to the world through French class. In my classroom, I do whatever is necessary to not only help my students to learn the language, but also to help them understand the French culture. When my students walk into the classroom, they are immediately immersed in the language and culture through all my classroom decor and live streaming French radio. My students also become connected with our partner school and as a result, they form friendships with students in France that will continue to develop over the years.

Knowing that many of my students have never had the chance to study another language, I do everything that I can to make language learning engaging and relevant for my students. I firmly believe that all students should have the chance to learn a language and that students should not be discouraged from studying a language. I had the opportunity to teach a student with Autism who was told he would not be successful in a language class. I immediately formed a connection with this student and saw the potential in him. This student not only passed my classes, he excelled and became the top French student in his grade level, and eventually became my French tutor. It was only because I believed in this student and continued to encourage him when others did not, that he was able to succeed. Learning a language can unlock a whole new world for our students.

As language teachers we need to see the potential in all of our students and focus on teaching the whole child every day. Language learning is for all students no matter their background. The skills that students learn in the language classroom prepares them for life. My students are learning so much more than French grammar and culture. They are learning to be creators, collaborators, critical thinkers, and communicators. They are also learning to be good listeners and decision-makers, as well as being understanding and empathetic to others. By working with our partner school, my students are developing intercultural competence and now have a better understanding of the world.

As a language teacher, I want to open my students eyes to the global world and provide them with the tools they need to be successful in the global society in which we live. By believing in all my students and doing whatever it takes to help them succeed, I am creating a classroom in which students are free to be themselves without the fear of being judged and are able to successfully learn a language.