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‘Enrichi’ is designed for anglo students

May 29th,2024 | Valley Voices

I was surprised by a key inaccuracy in recent coverage of the Hadley and Philemon Enriched French (enrichi) program (“Decoding Hadley’s Enriched French program”, May 15 edition). While one of the articles gives the impression Principal Dodie Payne said enrichi is for francophones, I think her words must’ve been misinterpreted, as she knows the programs taught in our school. The fact is enrichi is intended specifically for anglophones.

I want to offer a teacher’s perspective, which is noticeably absent from the articles. For nine years, I have been teaching 7th Grade Enriched French at Hadley. Before that, I taught the French base program for 7th and 8th.

To understand the secondary base program versus enriched, it’s essential to refer to the curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education. Though implementation can vary by school, we teachers at Hadley and Philemon are professionals, and like all French teachers in the English sector, follow the curriculum to build lessons.

Regrettably, the article never cites the learning curve tailor-made by the ministry. This could explain why it calls French education “all or nothing,” and says enrichi is “designed for francophone kids,” alleging anglophones who don’t get in are left with nothing.

You can read the Ministère de l’Éducation du Québec French as a Second Language program at: https://shorturl.at/9QhjY. 

Nowhere does the ministry say enrichi is aimed at francophones, who, of course, go to French schools. It clearly states the program is for “students in the anglophone sector” to raise their proficiency in the three language competencies (oral, reading comprehension and writing).

The ministry says, while the goal of the base program (which is taught one period a day, not once a week) is functional French, the enriched program aims to develop complex language skills. The curriculum is designed so that immersion in the primary grades preps students for enrichi at the secondary level, just as the base program readies students for Core French in secondary. Immersion grows up to be enrichi, which is why it’s not offered in secondary.

However, due to the shortage of teachers, especially ones with sufficient language skills, the immersion program has suffered. When the curriculum is taught as designed, the gap between 6th and 7th grades is modest, not the great chasm we’re now seeing. This trend created the urgent need for an entrance assessment, without which Hadley’s enrichi program could not survive.

Parents need to understand the school cannot be the only source of language acquisition if they want their child to succeed. Daily language exposure outside of school is vital. Francophone friends, grandparents, sport leagues, summer camps and using French at home are kids’ best teachers.

It may surprise you that many, perhaps most, of my top students come from anglo schools. As long as a 6th Grader’s oral comprehension is quite sharp, and they can glean the message in a 4th Grade francophone text, they can flourish in enrichi.

Finally, remember that students not accepted in 7th Grade can join in 8th or 9th if they improve their core French enough.

Let’s work together to embrace our options.

Marie-Line Bourdy is a Grade 7 Enriched French teacher at Hadley Junior High.

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