Online learning is new to many of us and we have received many questions from awesome parents like yourself who want to see their child succeed in French. Last week I made this video that shows what an online summer camp looks like and it also included an interview with one of our curriculum developers and awesome teachers, Jackie who showed us the daily schedule.
This week I wanted to share our top 5 questions we have been receiving by phone, email and facebook.
1) What level of French do students usually have?
The majority of our students come from a French immersion background, followed by core, private and then homeschool. Students are broken into 3 age categories: 5-6, 7-9 and then 10-13. In our youngest age group of ages 5-6, many children have not yet started French immersion or are considering it while some have maybe had 1 year experience. In our older groups there are mostly french immersion students, however we do often have enthusiastic core, private and homeschool students and this is awesome too!
2) Do you speak French 100% of the time?
NO we do not speak French 100% of the time. At Les Petites Pommes, whether it is during our in-person or online programming, we have chosen to use a bilingual approach to language learning. This means that while we will speak French the majority of the time (and our teachers are fluent in both French and English), we will use English to support the teaching of new concepts and not penalize children for not being able to communicate 100% in French. We find that this creates an inclusive, accessible and supportive environment for language learning as students are not constantly called out for being at different levels of their development and language learning journey. We can quickly identify students levels and if we notice for example, they are not communicating in French to their potential, we will encourage and motivate them positively to try again en français.
Data shows that students using a bilingual method of language acquisition score just as well on tests but more importantly to us, as we consider that language learning is a practice that takes years of study and self motivation on the students part outside of their time with us, a bilingual approach leaves a student feelings more confident by increasing their instances of positive interactions and ultimately more satisfied with their learning experience. This will increase their success as they go on to other stages of their language learning like back to school in September, exchanges in Quebec or France, high-school, post-secondary etc. We have practiced this method for the past 11 years and have seen the positive results it yields.
3) How do you manage multiple levels?
The bilingual approach mentioned above is one of the key ways how we manage and address multiple levels in one classroom in terms of ensuring understanding, participation and a positive learning experience for our campers. Another way we manage this is by specifically creating activities that have different tiers and paths towards completion. For example, a writing activity which may ask about what a child’s favourite part of the day was maybe completed with a single sentence, varying lengths of a paragraph or simply a picture depending on age and ability. This allows students to work at their own levels and not compare themselves to each other. When students are not constrained by expectations and fearful that their work is not good enough, they simply start to take joy and pride in their accomplishments and improvement naturally occurs. This is the opportunity that summer camp provides us and what makes our program a place for students to flourish and keeps them coming back every year. You’d be surprised how often we hear, “At first my child didn’t want to goto French camp, but now it is their favourite camp!”
4) Can my child be an absolute beginner?
YES! Many of our students in our 5-6 group have not started French immersion yet. It is our honour to be your child’s first experience with learning and hearing French and our main goal is to leave them feeling excited, confident and motivated to start at school!
5) What is your refund policy for online summer camp?
At Les Petites Pommes, we have always tried to lead with kindness and generosity and now more than ever, we believe it is what is going to get us through the pandemic. If you sign up for camp and after the first day your child decides they do not like it for whatever reason, we are happy to refund you for the days you did not use. You will only be charged for the day that was used + the cost of shipping the workbook to your house.
We’ll be doing another email with another top 5 very common questions and concerns, so stay tuned! And as always, if you have any other questions at all please feel free to respond to this email and myself or John will get back to you 🙂