August 4, 2018
Donna Coulet Dugard, Flora Poindexter, and Anna Ogunnaike recently attended the 91st annual convention of the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) held July 18-21, 2018, in Martinique in the French West Indies. All three were active participants in this unique gathering of over 300 French teachers from around the U.S. and from several other countries. Flora presented a session entitled "Immersion culturelle: Séjour linguistique en Martinique," and Anna presented a session, "Mise en scène créole."
Martinique is a Collectivité territoriale of France, meaning in terms of laws, administration, currency it is just like being in metropolitan France. At the same time, it shares much of the same history as other Caribbean islands. A volcanic island, Martinique suffered a devastating eruption of its volcano, La Montagne Pelée, in 1902 which killed more than 30,000 people in the city of Saint-Pierre.
Participants in the convention were able to learn about the history of Martinique through lectures and presentations as well as excursions to the sugar cane museum (Musée de la Canne), the birthplace of Joséphine de Beauharnais (Musée de la Pagerie), one of the oldest working brickworks in France in operation since 1783 (Village de la Poterie), the historical village recounting the native and slave history of Martinique (Savane des Esclaves), and the rum distillery and its Museum of Modern Art (Habitation Clément) in addition to many other sites that attendees visited on their own.
The AATF, founded in 1927, is the largest national association of French teachers in the world with nearly 9500 members. It is organized around 70 local chapters and governed by a national Executive Council of 18 members. National Headquarters are located in Marion, Illinois. The AATF publishes the French Review and the National Bulletin and holds an annual convention which alternates between sites in Francophone countries such as Canada, France, and also in the U.S. Its award-winning Web site [www.frenchteachers.org] contains a multitude of information and materials of interest to French teachers at all levels. The AATF also sponsors the National French Contest and National French Week (Nov. 1-7, 2018).
The convention was filled with sessions, discussions, and animated conversations about techniques for teaching French, promoting the study of French, and many sessions devoted to our convention theme Creolity and Environment. AATF members were treated to special events such as a dictée as well as a number of guest sessions by speakers from France and Canada. Those who wished were able to participate in pre- and post-convention excursions to the northern part of the island and to Guadeloupe.
The 2019 convention will be in Philadelphia where we will celebrate French in all its different facets. We invite all French teachers to join us.