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Steve talks to his grandson Kyle about his elementary school, which is a French Immersion school.
Steve: I’m sitting here today with my grandson Kylie and I want to talk a little bit about language learning with Kylie because Kylie goes to what kind of a school?
Kyle: French Immersion.
Steve: And what does that mean?
Kyle: It means that the school is in French.
Steve: And so every class is in French?
The teacher speaks in French?
Kyle: Um, yeah, unless you have a bit of English class.
Steve: Okay. And all the kids in class, do they speak French with each other or do they speak English with each other?
Kyle: Well, they’re not supposed to speak English with each other, but they do anyway.
But when you’re listening to the teacher and when you ask the teacher a question you have to ask in?
Steve: French. Is that difficult?
Kyle: Sort of; it depends.
Steve: It depends. And what year are you in?
Kyle: Grade 3.
Steve: Grade 3. So you’ve been doing that for three years?
Kyle: Um, yeah, well if you count preschool and grade 1. You don’t do much French in them.
Steve: In those first couple of years.
Steve: But the teacher just starts talking in French.
At first it must be difficult to understand what the teacher is saying.
Kyle: Um, she kind of explains it a little bit.
Steve: And what kinds of assignments do you get in French?
Kyle: Um, like grammar and like reading projects.
Steve: For example, what would be a typical example of a grammar assignment that you would get?
Kyle: Um, like ah, like um, different things like verbs and like names.
Steve: So they would, for example, show you some sentences and then ask you which is the verb and which is the noun that kind of thing?
Steve: But they ask you in French or in English?
Steve: And do they sometimes have you sort of fill-in the blanks?
Kyle: Yup, that’s what we do.
Steve: And when you fill-in the blanks do you fill them in writing or do you have to speak up?
Steve: In writing. And do you always get them right?
Kyle: Most of the time.
Steve: Most of the time.
So do you spend more time doing those kinds of grammar exercises or do you spend more time just listening and reading in French?
Kyle: Well we don’t listen at all.
Steve: Except to the teacher.
Kyle: Um, yeah.
Steve: Okay, but you sometimes watch movies.
Kyle: Yup, sometimes, but that’s if you’re lucky.
Well, it depends, if you’re doing a movie like for fun for like a school party or like a science movie or something.
Steve: So you do get, for example, a science movie in French?
And do you normally understand it?
Kyle: Well, yeah I do.
And when you read in French you were saying that you have some kind of a strategy thing that you do.
Steve: Can you explain or describe how that works?
Kyle: Um, well, so she gives you a sheet of…well, you get a story and you have to read it and you have to figure out what some words that you don’t really know mean.
Steve: Are these words that you choose or the teacher gives you and decides which words?
Kyle: The teacher decides which words.
And so you have two lines, you have to write what you think it means and then you have to write how you found out.
And you write a 5 if you figured it out by looking at one of the pictures in the story and then you do a 4 if you read the whole sentence and figured out what the words before or after it helped you figure it out and you do a 3 if there’s like a small word and a big word.
Steve: What’s an example of that?
Kyle: Like, um…
Steve: You mentioned the other day, like what?
Kyle: Oh yeah, like s’en volé.
Kyle: And you have “volé” in there.
Steve: Right or “volent” even.
Kyle: “Volent”, yeah, so then you’ve figured it out.
It means like it went flying, right?
Kyle: And then 2 means that because most of us the language that we speak at home is English, so then she says if you figured it out like “banane”, which is banana in English, so it kind of is the same.
Kyle: And then 1 is if you already knew it before you read the book.
Steve: How about if you couldn’t figure it out at all?
What number is that?
Kyle: You don’t have a number.
Steve: But there must be some of them that you don’t know what they mean.
Kyle: Yeah, but then you get an X on your test and then you get one wrong.
Steve: Oh, I see.
Kyle: And then she has to tell you what it means.
Steve: I see, okay. And do you do that quite often?
Kyle: Um, yup.
Steve: And the stories that they give you to read for these tests, are they interesting?
Kyle: Well, not really.
Steve: Do you prefer to read in English or in French?
Steve: Do you like reading in French?
Kyle: Sure, sort of.
Steve: Do you like reading in English?
Steve: So if you’re at home and you have some free time and you’re going to read, are you going to pick up an English book or a French book?
Kyle: An English book.
Steve: Is there any situation where you would pick up a French book?
Steve: Only homework.
How about if it was Asterix and Obelix?
Kyle: Maybe, except you can get those books in English and they’re really funny.
Steve: And they’re not so much fun; they’re not funny when you read them in French?
Steve: It’s too much trouble.
Kyle: It’s a bit harder to read them.
It’s a bit harder to understand because they use complicated words in books like that and, yeah.
Steve: And so do you sometimes have to give a presentation in class in French?
Kyle: Yeah, every Monday.
Well not now because school’s almost over and we have no homework.
But we used to have to recite a whole poem in front of the class and you have to learn it over a week and you had to have it in your head and you’d have to recite it to the whole class.
Steve: And do you like poems?
Kyle: No, not really.
Steve: Do you like poems in French?
Kyle: No, not really.
Steve: Do you think that if you remember those poems by heart that…can you remember now any of the poems that you did earlier in the year?
Kyle: Ah, no.
(Annie I’ll have you later.) Are there any poems that you enjoy while you’re learning them?
Steve: Which ones?
Like what kind of poems do you like?
Kyle: Um, most of them don’t make much sense and so some of them are kind of funny.
Steve: Oh, so you like them if they’re funny.
Steve: That’s the best kind of poem, I agree; I agree.
Okay, that’s interesting.
You know I’m also going to talk to Annie.
And you’re in what grade?
Steve: Grade 3 and so next year you’re going to grade 4.
And what do you like doing more, reading French or playing hockey?
Kyle: Playing hockey.
What’s your most favorite thing to do?
Kyle: Playing hockey.
Steve: What about eating?
Kyle: Eating is my second or third.
Steve: Okay. What’s second, if eating is third and hockey is first?
Kyle: Video games.
Steve: Video games.
Is that fun?
Steve: Do you play games with your sisters?
Steve: Aha. And can the dog play?
Steve: Okay. Alright, thank you very much Kylie.
And now we’re going to sit down with Annie and we’re going to do the same thing.
But first, say goodbye.