Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Parlez-vous français? --Foreign Language Instruction in Elementary School

 If you go to another country often you'll be amazed at the number of people who can speak English.  Our family hosted a German high school student for a few weeks--not only did he know English, but he could tell jokes, discuss religion, and talk on any number of subjects all in his non-native language, fluently and with little accent. Granted--it's a myth that all other citizens of other countries know our language, but more know ours than we know theirs.

With the arrival of the internet, you don't need a passport for international communication.  One click, and you're there!  People from all over the world look at this blog---some for photo images only, while others spend a bit of time. It's time to realize how important it is to be a part of the world community!

Hard at work planning for the next week!

Our school is fortunate enough to have a French program.  It's not French immersion, or a dual language classroom model, but the kids are given near daily exposure and direct teaching in the French language.  There is a structured systematic curriculum and it shows in the quality of work the students produce and how well they do in French poetry competitions and French exams (5th grade). What I love is that many of our special needs children actually do quite well in French!  Our teachers are creative, and teach to different learning styles. They use movement, music, drama, reading, written language, and verbal conversation.

I walked around the school and took some snapshots of different learning outcomes for French at the various grade levels. Here's what I saw! 

French play in first grade

Who doesn't love a French restaurant!

I'm impressed!

I never did this in elementary school!

One of my regrets as a speech pathologist is that I don't really know another language (my two years of high school Spanish don't count).  My caseload has blossomed with languages---Spanish, Burmese, Bengali, Chinese.  Even learning one other language in the early years (such as elementary school) greatly assists you in learning a third language as you get older.   We all are in a world community.  Languages are important for careers and life, so I'm so appreciative of the French program, and the quality of teaching I see daily.  The kids and teachers love it, and ultimately, everyone will benefit.


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