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French program equips students with tools toward bilingualism

Updated: May 12, 2023

Alumnus, Hannah B., spends gap year at Parole de Vie École Biblique, to build on what she learned in Redeemer’s French program and be immersed in the language

When Hannah’s parents sent her and her siblings to Redeemer, one of their educational goals for their children was strong French training. Her mom was happy to report at the February Open House that “Hannah’s interest in and fluency in French was greatly nourished and encouraged through her French studies at Redeemer.”

French teacher, Mme Dominique, confirmed Hannah took all four core French courses at the academic level as well as both Geography (Grade 9) and History (Grade 10) in French. In Grade 10, Hannah entered the National Capital History Day poster contest sponsored by Carleton University and won first prize in the junior division for Individual Exhibition (French). “She prepared a report and poster in French, highlighting the contribution of the Canadian Peacekeeping mission Operation Harmony to the United Nations Peace Forces in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina following the war in Bosnia,” explained Dominique. “She did excellent research and writing in French and presented her work to a variety of judges who engaged her, interview-style, on the topic throughout the day.”

In addition to enrichment opportunities like the poster contest and the study of grammatical structure, Redeemer’s French program emphasizes oral use of French. Dominique mentioned the program includes “daily discussion, debate, presentation of a variety of topics, blogs and more.” There is also consistent work put into the editing process on all written work so that mastery is built during the four years of high school.

Hannah appreciates how Redeemer improved her French skills. “Even though Redeemer is not a French immersion school, it has all the tools necessary to enable students to have a solid base for French grammar and writing,” she acknowledged. “Before Redeemer, French seemed like a chaotic and complicated language. However, through the core programs offered, I learned how the language is ordered; a necessary tool in knowing a language.” Hannah said her roommate, who helps edit her work, “is impressed at the quality of my written work. I can guarantee you, it was not that way before Redeemer.”

When Hannah considered going to Parole de Vie École Biblique, the French Word of Life Bible Institute in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Mme. Dominique assured her that she would do fine. “Throughout her high school career, Hannah was engaged in class discussion and worked hard to build her vocabulary and use of the language structures.” Hannah said when she first arrived at Parole de Vie, she was challenged to understand other students with differing accents, because she was habituated to the voice of her teacher, but soon found herself understanding, and even using, the local accent.

After Hannah was at Parole de Vie for five months, reading through the Bible, taking doctrine courses in French, and participating in ministry outreach opportunities, she wrote to her parents about a winter camp they hosted for a group of Quebecois teens. She told them, “what’s surprising me is that my French is not holding me back much. I can keep up really well, in fact, the kids don’t even realize that I’m an Anglophone!” Hannah recommends students immerse themselves in a program like she did to allow the essential head knowledge learned at Redeemer to become firmly rooted and to flow naturally. She said a year at Parole de Vie offered her the “perfect community to practice and make mistakes.”

Hannah hopes to study Biochemistry at either Carleton University or the University of Ottawa once she completes her Bible certificate at Parole de Vie. As well as the French courses taken, she gave a shout-out to the inter-disciplinary university level course, IDC4U, and all English courses offered at Redeemer. “These courses prepared me and have been essential to my success at Parole de Vie.” She said all four of Redeemer’s English courses “created in me the ability to write clear, well-informed, formal papers.” Hannah also acknowledged the material in IDC4U, “learning about doctrine and worldviews, developed a way of thinking that is applicable throughout the whole year at Parole de Vie.”

Based on her experience, Hannah said, “the French program at Redeemer more than adequately equips students with all the tools necessary to become proficient in French. Coupled with a complete immersion in the language, such as a year at Parole de Vie, the program allows any student to really hone their skills and become bilingual.”


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