Colin received his report card last week. As expected, he is flourishing in math and visual art. Where he is lagging a little behind is vocabulary in oral and written use. Since he is attending a francophone school where most kids have one parent whose first language is French, this was something we expected might come up. It is not our goal to have the kids graduate from a Francophone school; rather what we want is that they are fluently bilingual. Keeping this end in mind is important as we navigate this school system, since we must accordingly adjust our expectations for the kids in relation to their school mates,
That being said, I wanted to come up with some way to help Colin use the French he is learning at school in a more organic way. Enter: the theme. If you are a fan of the film "A Christmas Story" you have probably already identified what I mean, and probably had a little chuckle about it also. A theme is a short, one page written piece on a specific theme.
Colin is now expected to produce one theme a week, on Friday afternoons. He may choose whatever subject he likes, or may ask for a suggestion from me. He must write 10-15 sentences, in French, on that subject. He has a pictorial French-English dictionary as well as a Larousse dictionary. He is encouraged to write on that subject in detail, and to try and use whatever vocabulary and grammar lessons he has been learning at school. After he writes it, I sit down and read it with him, correcting only the common or repetitive mistakes, or simple grammar he is already learning.
Last Friday he wrote his first theme. I gave a couple suggestions as I explained the assignment, including Lego, playing in the snow, or a friend from school. He shook his head and said he already knew what the subject of his first theme would be.
For the record, here it is (English translation):
Hello. My name is Colin. When I am big like my dad I want to be in his work. His work is Senior Moving. It moves people from one house to another. My dad works with his brothers and his dad. Their names are Doug, James, Sean, Andrew and Scot. My mother helps with his work. My dad is the president and his dad is the president with my dad. They have offices in Toronto and London.
(How does that not melt your heart!)