Quesnel school district celebrates language diversity

Students in SD28 have several options for learning a second language

Quesnel students advance their French language skills on a trip to France.

More than ever before, the world is becoming a global community. Growing numbers of students (and adults!) move, travel and study throughout the world. Being able to speak another language enhances this experience.

Even if a student never travels out of the country, there are many benefits to learning another language.

Some of these include; enriched first language skills, appreciation of and openness to other cultures; enhanced cognitive and intellectual abilities and increased travel opportunities.

Students in the Quesnel School District have opportunities to study several languages. In the elementary schools, most students start to study French beginning in Grade 5 and the option to continue studying French goes through to Grade 12. Elementary students attending at Nazko Valley Elementary School are able to take Carrier. Carrier is the language of this area’s First Nations people.

There are more language options in secondary grades. All students in grades 8-12 may choose Carrier as their language study. At Correlieu, along with French and Carrier, students may choose German and/or Spanish.

With few exceptions, most students in BC begin learning French as their second language. There are some good reasons as to why. French is one of Canada’s official languages. It is an internationally-spoken language and has been the working language of world diplomacy. French is the world’s ninth most spoken language, and is still the world’s second most-spoken international language after English. It is an official language in 33 countries (45 for English) and the only other language taught in all countries of the world. French Immersion and Core French programs are thriving in Quesnel.

Students from both programs have recently had some interesting experiences in connection to their programs that have enhanced their ability to speak French. This past March, Correlieu French Teachers Mme. Kwiatkowski and Mme. Volk took students from their French 12 courses to France. During the trip which lasted ten days, students visited Paris, the Loire Valley (where they took in the chateaus) and then headed up to the coast. Here they visited Mont St. Michel, the D-Day beaches and the Canadian Memorial Cemetery.

They returned to Paris via Rouen and took a boat cruise on the Seine River. Several of the students who participated recently reported on their trip to the Education Committee. They shared that it had been a trip of a lifetime and they gained more confidence in speaking French and in being understood by Francophones.

In April, French Immersion students at École Baker elementary had a chance to hone their French communication skills by participating in the “Expo Sciences,” an event coordinated by grade 6/7 Science teacher Mme. Blanchet. Students learned about Science “en Francais” and engaged French immersion students in conversation about specific scientific phenomena. Students had to present a demonstration or project that they had researched to an audience of younger French Immersion students. Presentations were open to visitors and booths were spread out around the school. Creativity abounded, and it was evident that we have many scientists-in-the-making here in Quesnel. Those who were able to wander though the school that day were able to learn about tapping the electrical potential of potatoes; using solar power to operate devices; how steam engines worked; how the periodic table and its elements was set up; the kinetic theory of particles, and the list goes on.

Hone up on your French and stay tuned for next year’s exhibit!

There are countless examples of similar, positive language learning experiences that happen at each school.

Encourage your child to share their language learning experiences with you.

If you have any questions about languages and language learning in Quesnel schools, please do not hesitate to call for information.

Cynthia Bernier is director of instruction – curriculum and Sue-Ellen Miller is superintendent of schools.

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