BonPatron is a great tool to help your students improve their writing abilities in French. In order to benefit fully from the site's ability to identify errors, we ask that you keep the following points in mind:
1) BonPatron is inspired by a process-writing approach to learning. Students should approach the writing task in stages. When using BonPatron, have your students submit a text, correct the errors, and then resubmit their work. This is important since BonPatron requires certain errors to be fixed before it will point out other ones. For example, if a student writes Il a reste, only the need for a past participle (resté) will be highlighted initially. Once this change is made, the error concerning auxiliary selection will be caught. It is through a series of interactions like this that students will make greatest progress and that BonPatron will be most successful at identifying errors. Recent research shows that students make better progress when they are not overwhelmed by an excessive number of errors to correct.
2) BonPatron will not catch 100% of errors (nor will the average teacher!). Our own research (and that of an independent review) suggests that BonPatron will catch approximately 82% of errors. It is a learning tool that is designed to improve texts, not make them flawless (that's where you, the teacher, come in!). We therefore suggest that BonPatron be used for all first drafts and that your writing program include a two-stage correction (1st by BonPatron, and then by the teacher).
3) The Pro version of BonPatron is particularly well-suited to helping learners. We say this because it has the following features:
The Pro version is available for a minimal fee of about $249 per classroom of up to 30 students (about $8 per student!). We can arrange to have a site license for computer labs (direct access based on IP addresses), or self-registration groups (that allow students to manage their own profiles). Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. You can create a free trial account of BonPatron Pro and use it for up to 5 days. A video that explains the main functions of the Pro site can be found here.
We encourage teachers to have students use BonPatron systematically prior to handing in their text. One way of verifying this is to simply ask them to print off a screen shot of their final submission to BonPatron. We know that not all students enter the French writing process with the same abilities. However, they should approach this important task with the same level of responsibility. BonPatron is one tool that will allow them to improve their texts substantially before requesting feedback from their teacher.
As always, feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.
The BonPatron team,
Dr. Terry Nadasdi & Dr. Stéfan Sinclair