Learning French While Dancing? Students Make the Leap with Panache

By Mark Clayton, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, June 9, 1998 | Go to article overview

Learning French While Dancing? Students Make the Leap with Panache


Mark Clayton, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


It's 9 a.m., and two Bennington College students, Sasha Cuccinciello and Margaret Eisenberg, begin walking across a room, their arms carving imaginary waves, heads bobbing. Suddenly they flop to the floor, "swimming" (crawling) on their bellies.

As they go, the two chant: "J'aime les fleurs qui nagent avec les poissons," or in English: "I like flowers swimming with fish."

If this all sounds a bit unusual, it is. Even out here on higher education's high frontier, the notion of simultaneous dance and French instruction for students with disparate backgrounds is an audacious leap into the blue - one of the most radical experiments in cross-disciplinary teaching in the United States. But its creators also say it represents hope for the millions who trudge through standard language training struggling to conjugate and memorize verbs - and who, in the end, can barely speak a few sentences. It is also a new frontier for cross-disciplinary instruction in college, which came into its own in the mid-1980s and exists in some form at hundreds of schools nationwide. It's not unusual today for a computer-engineering class, say, to involve professors from both electrical engineering and computer science. Yet Bennington is one of only a few colleges with a reputation for pushing the envelope to blend disciplines. And even here it is unusual to cross the yawning chasm between the humanities (French) and the fine arts (dance), as this class seeks to do. The official course title is: "Moving From Words, Speaking Through Movements - and Learning French." But the students just call it "Dancing in French," an elliptical phrase that defies easy classification as either a dance or a language class. Both Ms. Cuccinciello and Ms. Eisenberg are theater majors who had taken dance before, but who knew little French prior to this nothing- but-French-spoken-here dance class. The class also includes those who speak French, but have had no dance training. At their early morning session, teacher Agnes Benoit rallies her charges. "All right, let's break up into groups and dance the sentences we've been thinking about," she says in her native French. Making language fun The course does not attempt to turn novices into instant masters of either dance or French. Instead, it's about making learning a language fun and intellectually appealing to the students, says Isabelle Kaplan, director of Bennington's Regional Center for Languages and Cultures and co-developer of the experimental class. "It's learning through listening, based on the simple way a child learns through motor activity and making connections," she says. She would like students to enjoy the class so much that they are powerfully motivated to "take responsibility" for learning the language and thereby become more engaged and active in regular language course work. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Learning French While Dancing? Students Make the Leap with Panache
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.