Why We Study French
Learning a Foreign Language is an Act of Friendship
“The decision to learn a foreign language is to me an act of friendship. It is indeed a holding out of the hand. It’s not just a route to negotiation. It’s also to get to know you better, to draw closer to you and your culture, your social manners and your way of thinking. And the decision to teach a foreign language is an act of commitment, generosity and mediation.
It’s a promise to educate – yes – and to equip. But also to awaken; to kindle a flame that you hope will never go out; to guide your pupils towards insights, ideas and revelations that they would never have arrived at without your dedication, patience and skill.” — John le Carré
We believe that it is essential for our students to be able to communicate with the people we serve in West and Central Africa. To this end, in August 2012 we introduced a school-wide French Language Program that gave all students from kindergarten to Grade 12 the opportunity to learn French as a second language and develop a deeper understanding of French and francophone culture. The French Language Program is one of our newest academic programs. Prior to 2012, high school students were the only students who had the opportunity to learn a second language through an intense two-year learning program.
Language is a gift of God revealed on the first day of creation. It is the means of man’s ongoing relationship with Him through worship, scripture, and prayer. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible stresses the value of words in human interaction. Man has developed his listening, viewing, writing, and speaking skills into a finely honed and creative vehicle of literacy. Through acquiring a second language, we can understand other perspectives and cultures, as the Kingdom of God embraces every tongue and tribe and nation. We start from preschool/kindergarten with a communicative approach, getting familiar with the language’s sounds and expressions. By the end of elementary, the students are ready to study the mechanics as well. Once a person has studied one language, it becomes easier to master another later on in life.
Possibilities & Application
Incoming students in kindergarten through Grade 8 who are not at the same level of French as their peers, or perhaps have never studied French, may simply audit the course for a period of time (up to one semester). We cannot offer this during high school because high school students need their course credits. Students entering high school may take an alternative foreign language program online. This will be discussed and decided as part of the student’s application process.
Incoming high school students who are not familiar with French need to take the course for credit. There are several things to consider, including:
- The level of motivation of the student.
- The student could be given the option to opt out of our course and take an online language course of his/her choice.
- Whether the student needs a language for their further studies. This question is asked as part of our acceptance process and needs to be reviewed.
- Where possible, the French teacher can offer tutoring to help new students catch up.
If a student wants to prove language proficiency (i.e. by passing a B2 test), he/she must request this well in advance. This discussion should be included in the student’s graduation and college planning meeting, which takes place each year and is reviewed annually. The school will support each student as they pursue extracurricular study and external exams, but we do not provide for this in our curriculum. Families that wish to take these extra measures must provide for it through private tutors or online courses.
We are developing a program that combines European concepts, like language study from an early age, with international standards, including completing the U.S. equivalent of two years of high school French. The learning objective is to arrive at European B1 level by the end of Grade 12. Because students come and go, it’s important to remember that students rarely remain in the program from kindergarten to Grade 12.
Each grade offers French as a part-time enrichment course, not as one of their core subjects.