Behind the words: Quesnel kids immersed deeper in French

Elijah Bueckert, Ayla Smith, Yuki Sturt and Gabriella Bird (L to R) celebrate French Immersion Week in School District 28. (SD28 photo)Elijah Bueckert, Ayla Smith, Yuki Sturt and Gabriella Bird (L to R) celebrate French Immersion Week in School District 28. (SD28 photo)
Finn Eyeford is sporting the colours of Belgium during French Immersion Week in School District 28 (SD28 photo)
Nieko Van Leusden is serving Zoey Saitz as she, Logan Dinsdale and Friday Borsato-Stobbe are waiting for Belgian waffles during French Immersion Week in School District 28. (SD28 photo)

Immersion means getting fully dipped in a topic, and School District 28 (SD28) students in their French Immersion got a deeper look at the cultures behind the language.

The world’s use of French goes far beyond just France, just as in Canada it goes far beyond Quebec. Having a working knowledge of both of Canada’s most commonly spoken languages gives an advantage to any student, and a special week of activities was just held to inspire them to embrace the opportunity.

“French Immersion is a great opportunity for kids to learn a second language, but also to learn about all the different French cultures out there in the world, and really broaden their horizons,” said Kevin Sturt, language coordinator for SD28.

April 17-21 was French Immersion Week and the theme was la francophonie or French Around The World. One might think that every week is about French learning, but this was a week of added incentive to enjoy their second language.

“It was a celebration,” said Sturt. “It provides that opportunity for our classes to network with themselves and with kids on the English side (of École Red Bluff Lhtako Elementary where the K-7 kids in French Immersion inhabit half of the school). Kids do learn French across all their studies, learning the curriculum in the French language, and this special week gave them the opportunity to see the relevance of learning French. It’s hard in Quesnel, given that we don’t have a really close neighbourhood where it’s predominantly French, but there are people across the town who are francophones or francophiles, who do speak French. This was a special opportunity for students of the language to learn about the background cultures.”

The elementary kids learned about the many different jurisdictions where French is a popular language, like Morocco, Belgium, Louisiana, Switzerland, and more. The French students paired up with English students for the sharing of food and facts about these many places.

French Immersion carries on into Grades 8-9 at Quesnel Junior School, which did a study focus on Madagascar during the commemorative week. The high school students in Grade 10-12 at Correlieu Secondary did a focus on Haiti.

There was a bilingual book fair, bingo, French-focused dance instruction from visiting company Jess Dance, and a kickoff assembly with the kids dressed in the colours of the flags of the countries they were studying.

Canadian Parents for French provided a grant to SD28 to bolster the week of activities.

“We have about 200 students across the district from Kindergarten up to Grade 12 and there’s still room for anybody to entertain the idea of enrolling their student into French Immersion,” Sturt said. “There is open entry for Kindergarten and Grade 1 for this coming September, which is quite unique because in many parts across the province there are waiting lists. We are quite fortunate in Quesnel to have that opportunity for parents to go into École Red Bluff Lhtako Elementary and sign their child up. The parents of French Immersion students don’t need to know any French themselves.

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