More Than a Language

Mary Michael Hopes to Teach Life Lessons as Well as Vocabulary

“You guys are just really good kids, you really are,” says new teacher Madame Mary Michael Michael has been teaching French for 27 years and has spent the last 5 at Rushville Consolidated High School, which she says holds “no comparison” to life here at West Lafayette. 

She continues to gush about students at West Side, saying,

Michael says, “I don’t have to ask people to do things more than once, I don;t have to ask people to tuck in their chairs, and people do their homework. The biggest thing is how well prepared the students are coming to class and how hard they work.”

Michael teaches French for 7th graders, 1, and 3. Traditionally new teachers have difficulty adjusting to teaching multiple age levels, like going from 7th graders to seniors in just an hour, but this was no big deal for Michael, she says,

“In most all of my previous years I have been the only French teacher so I’ve taught all levels of French classes, so this is like a little bit of a break.” 

However, fitting her curriculum into just one hour has been a steeper hill to climb.

“My past school had 90 minute block scheduling, so shortening my classes down to 50 minutes has been a bit of a challenge, but I’m getting used to it.”

To help her students retain the information she presents, she likes to keep things lighthearted and fun in the classroom, 

“I make up little songs for grammar… I like to do things that are what the kids are into, in today’s third year French after their big quiz, we watched Spongebob Squarepants in French on French Nickelodeon, I like to do games like ‘Last One Standing,’ baseball, Battleship with verbs, things that will act as a hook.” 

This she hopes will make her class enjoyable yet informative all at the same time.Finally, she hopes her students know that English isn’t the only language that people think is right.

“When I teach about adjective placement it is the same in Spanish as in French, the adjective comes after the noun and theirs isn’t the wrong way but our’s isn’t the right way either. We just do it differently and that’s okay.”

She also wants her students to leave that door with knowledge about how to appreciate and respect other cultures.

“I think that the big life lesson is that the US and our culture is not the only way to do things and we need to learn to be open minded to other cultures and we need to sometimes get off our high horse in thinking that everything american is best. We certainly live in a wonderful country and   I want my students to develop a love for french culture because that;s big for me but also that we are not the only people on this planet and there’s so much more out there for us to learn about and appreciate.”


No Crying in French Class; Michael poses with some of her favorite photos in her classroom, “I like the fun photos like these to help people remember certain phrases.”

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