With 274 million speakers, French is the fifth most spoken language on the planet!
Early exposure to a foreign language is essential to successful bilingualism. The first year of an immersion program is typically a “listening year” in which the child observes and forms connections between what he / she hears and the visual clues provided by the teachers. We combine multiple dimensions of literacy and an appeal to the five senses to build comprehension – for example, by using hand gestures and physical objects to describe actions and introduce new words. This approach is modeled after the natural language learning process but in a more intentioned, accelerated form. We establish routines early in class to give our children the confidence to reuse vocabulary themselves, and we use songs and nursery rhymes to foster correct pronunciation.
While our teachers only speak French in the classroom, the children are free to use English or any other language. When a child responds to a teacher in their home language, the teacher reformulates that answer back into French. As the year progresses, we encourage the children to do more of this rephrasing themselves. The second year is increasingly “active,” as a child’s comprehension will have improved and he / she will feel more willing to take risks and address teachers and peers in the target language.