Naperville teacher brings love of French language, culture to classroom

NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- A teacher in west suburban Naperville believes much can be accomplished through conversation. English takes a back seat in her classroom, where she shares her love of all things French.

The French flows and so does the hot chocolate in Kristina Beck’s classroom at Neuqua Valley High School.

“She pays for this hot chocolate so we can have a real French experience because with our friends we are in this table and in groups and we talk in French as if we were on the streets of Paris in a café,” Emma Salgado, the student who nominated Madame Beck, said.

They speak as they sip –it’s called Café Conversation, and it’s part of Madame Beck’s curriculum. ​

“I let them make mistakes. I encourage them to make mistakes because that’s the only way we can learn,’ Madame Beck said.

“Getting to have that language experience without having to leave the classroom,” Salgado said. “That’s one of my favorite things.”

Salgado planned on taking French for two years to fulfill a foreign language requirement, but her teacher inspired her to continue on all four years of her high school career.

“It’s a beautiful language and Madame has such a passion for it. she brings all this stuff to the table besides just the language learning, it’s the culture learning,” she said.

“She’s a student who is interested and ignited by French culture, French things and I’m really happy to help foster that. I had a few French teachers growing up that fostered that in me and it’s always been my goal becoming a teacher and transmitting that to others,” Madame Beck said.

​To honor Madame Beck, Saint Xavier University awarded her with $1,000. ​

“I think she’s remarkable in that she engages the students so well and they are excited about talking,” Peter Hilton, associated professor at St. Xavier University, said.

“I did not expect anything like this. It’s humbling it’s very humbling for me,” Madame Beck said.

“She is just such a great teacher and she is so loving and caring she deserves this she is full in with everything that she does. She adds so much to this program,” Salgado said.

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