The Gift of French Immersion?
I have two kids in French Immersion but I have always had an uneasy feeling about the program. I think the classroom time is often boring, the lessons are full of rote learning and the curriculum does not allow for any creative, tangential learning.
This is not always true, of course. But overall the time it takes to teach kids a second language eats up the time that can be used for more fun methods of teaching. For instance, in kindergarten and grade one, the teachers are busy teaching the kids the alphabet and how to count, they are teaching the word chat for cat, instead of teaching them that cats are nocturnal, and have bumpy tongues to sip milk, and are disdainful of their owners.
It doesn’t work for all kids and we pulled our eldest son out after he became so frustrated that he couldn’t ask the questions he wanted to learn more about a subject. In essence, French Immersion, which is considered the enriched program, was too boring for our curious child.
Those are the downsides as I see them. But, we are currently on our way home from France (sorry, I hid my vacation from you, can’t be too careful on the Internet) and I can tell you, that watching my three kids interact in French was incredible.
They showed real joy when able to express themselves in a second language. They were able to talk to people, order drinks and croissants and have discussions about the weather. Everywhere we went, they were complimented on their accent.
I have a better vocabulary but I will never have the ease that they have with the French language. I will never be able to roll my ‘Rs’ without a second thought and I will never conjugate without a struggle. But my kids will never lose those basic skills.
They were able to play with the neighbouring 11-year-old from Paris, whose languages include: German, Spanish, Portuguese and a smattering of English. The Europeans aren’t afraid of teaching multiple languages.
So why am I? Maybe they don’t care as much about creative learning or meeting each kid's needs. Maybe they are right, I don’t know. But I will appreciate what my kids have: a fluency and a comfort in speaking another language which will hopefully continue. I hope their knowledge of a second language will lead them to explore other parts of the world, other cultures and give them a measure of tolerance for those from other places.
Are your kids in French Immersion? What do you think about Immersion programs?
Want more chaos? Last year I wrote about skinny jeans for kids.