Plans are underway to introduce a new French program at Ottawa Christian School (OCS) to excel student learning.
“(French) is something this community places a high priority on,” says Principal Paul Triemstra.
“So we’re hoping that this will meet the needs of our community and potentially a broader community.”
The current core French program at OCS is to be replaced with the Intensive French curriculum in 2009.
Intensive French is a new approach aimed at improving the communicative competence of the regular core French student. It has been tested and found quite successful in Newfoundland and is currently being piloted in eastern Ontario and the lower mainland of British Columbia.
A study of the Intensive French program in Newfoundland and Labrador found 80 per cent of the students were able “to show some spontaneity in language production and to initiate and sustain simple dialogue.”
Results for written production indicated that students were able to write in French at the same average level as native francophones in Quebec in Grade 3.
Decidedly not immersion, the program is essentially an enrichment of the core French program typically offered in Canadian schools.
The enrichment takes place by the creation of a period of intensive exposure to French enabling students to receive three to four times the number of hours of instruction normally devoted to French in the school year in which the program is offered. In most cases, this enrichment occurs in Grade 6.
For the rest of the year the students return to their regular schedule with the presumption that they will have acquired much more ease in using French.
Triemstra describes it as “compacting” the curriculum during a certain timeframe and then “unpacking” it afterwards.
The program includes an emphasis on group work and projects.
Intensive French was developed by participating teachers with experience teaching both the regular curriculum and core French at Grade 6. It is based on the core French goals for Grade 9, but activities are adjusted to the cognitive and social level of Grade 6 students.
Triemstra says standards are higher for French instruction in Ottawa, largely due to parental expectations.
“(With this program) we’re hoping to excel students beyond what they’re learned before.”