The French department has probably had one of the most exciting school years to date. This excitement can be attributed to two new initiatives that we have launched this year. The first being the school’s major investment in the new Language Lab, a turning point in French at Akiva, which gives students the opportunity to converse in French for 95% of the class period! Students communicate with their peers and their teacher; they process the learning, they listen again, they try again and, they love it! No more shyness or embarrassment when speaking French; no more uncertainties in pronunciation!
What is the difference between learning your mother tongue and learning a second language? Research tells us that the first is learned through speaking and the latter is learned mainly through writing. Now, with the Language Lab, Akiva is the first primary school to place oral communication at the centre of French learning, a second language for the majority of our students.
The second innovation in French this school year is the implementation of our new “ligue québécoise” program, run by our amazing French teacher, Josée Gendron. The Quebec League program is part of our vision to support and nurture the potential of every student and work with them to improve their goals with respect to French language and culture. Josée Gendron works with students who are motivated to speak French and know more about Quebec culture. In small groups, they do activities in French and discover Montreal, the city where they live, and Quebec.
Akiva School attaches great importance to creative learning in French, as is reflected by these new innovative efforts I have just outlined and from which all students, at all levels, benefit. But, we must not forget the substantive work that is also carried out every day in the classroom by teaching subjects such as grammar, dictée and conjugation.
It is through this beautiful balance between traditional learning and innovation that we strive for excellence in French.