The French program at Tall Pines attempts to replicate an immersion atmosphere as much as possible. Students are encouraged to speak only French with their classmates and their teacher. From the moment the students cross the ‘magic line’ into the classroom, they are expected to converse only in French. The cognitive benefits of learning a second language are well documented. Learning to communicate in another language broadens our knowledge of different cultures and diverse communities. My personal objective, as the Senior French teacher, is to create an atmosphere where students can develop confidence with spontaneous interactions in French.
When Tall Pines embraced the Aim program (Accelerative interactive method) in 1994, our students began to develop fluency, using gestures that target a highly effective kinesthetic method for the internalization of hundreds of high frequency vocabulary in French. In accordance with the Montessori principal of ‘hands are the instrument of learning’, so follows the premise of the Aim program. The gesturing model accommodates all learners; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Not only do students ‘learn’ hundreds of new vocabulary, but actually internalize them through the use of interactive activities; plays, songs, acting, partner activities, and of course gestures.
While the Aim curriculum has been widely successful, and continues up to grade 6, the grade seven and eight students will be introduced to a new curriculum called, “On y va’. The ‘On y va’ program exceeds the expectations of the Ontario Curriculum in language, grammar and vocabulary building. The Senior students also receive the benefits of the gesturing model, which will accelerate and complement the, ‘On y v”, curriculum. This new program offers current units relevant to the 21st century. Students work together to collaborate when sharing opinions, give and receive instructions, and participate in role-playing, dramatizations, and simulations. Students will be encouraged to use critical thinking, creativity and innovation when completing each unit tasks.
Reading selections are of different forms, genres, lengths and styles. They include dialogues, song lyrics, articles, cartoons, short stories, and poems. Oral communication is essential, and students are encouraged to assist and collaborate with their classmates. Students are given the opportunity to develop their listening and speaking skills with each lesson. Writing activities serve to support and reinforce language components. Several stages of process-writing are integrated in the writing tasks. These stages include generating ideas, choosing a topic, determining the purpose for writing, writing a first draft, reviewing, proof-reading, self and peer-editing, and producing a final copy. Dictation, unit, comprehensions tests and exams (grades 7 and 8 only) will be used for evaluation of vocabulary acquisition and mastery of required grammar skills.
Long gone are the days when students concentrate only on grammar. The ability to communicate effectively is our goal, and we strive daily in our journey to create an environment where all of our students will become bilingual.