World Languages Elementary Specialty Program

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Go to the Signal Hill French Classroom Page

Ici on parle français! (Here, we speak French!) Thumbs Up

Bonjour et bienvenue (hello and welcome) to our French Program at Signal Hill Elementary School! We implemented the first year of the French WLES* (World Language at the Elementary School) program at Signal Hill in September, 2000. The frequency of instruction has varied over the years. Today, all students in Grades 1-5 receive 45 minutes of instruction once a week; by the end of the school year, this amounts to approximately 24 hours.

Our WLES program can be described as a content-based sequential model. Our objectives are to familiarize the students with a basic knowledge of French by focusing initially on the listening and speaking skills. As these skills develop, we focus on reading and writing skills in French.The unique aspect of this WLES program is that we try to draw from some of the themes of the mainstream grade-level curriculum content objectives in order to develop our students’ skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing in French.

Every year, the WLES team of teachers revises the world language elementary curriculum so that it would better fit the actual instructional time the students receive. In the past, frequency was a key component of the language program; over the years, this has changed, so we really needed to adjust the curriculum to the total instructional time students receive in a year.

Best practice in a world language class depends on the use of that language as much as possible by the teacher and amongst the students. This helps to ensure that the students comprehend and are able to produce the language. I will facilitate the students’ comprehension of French by using Total Physical Response (TPR) which includes gestures, body language, and visuals. I will also use songs and/or rhymes where the students repeat new vocabulary and phrases until they are memorized or automatic. Eventually, the students will become more comfortable with me being in French, and they will begin to process and comprehend and produce in French as well. At the beginning of the year, I have to go through class management, procedures and discipline with the students and this of course is done in English. Whenever I teach something about the French culture, it is also done in English.

Most students, if not all, are already aware of what they need to bring with them to French class. I will summarize below:

1st Grade: folder and pencil
2nd Grade: folder with loose leaf paper, pencil
3rd Grade: notebook (composition or spiral), and pencil
4th Grade: pencil, notebook (if here in 3rd grade, preferably the notebook they used in 3rd grade since students put a lot of effort in them; this way they don’t have to start all over again from scratch in4th grade). If they threw out their 3rd grade notebook, or are new students, simply bring in a new notebook!
5th Grade: pencil, notebook (if here in 3rd or 4th grade, preferably their old notebook. If they threw out their old notebook or are new students, simply bring in new notebook!)

Finally, a little bit about me: I am Madame Ballvé! I have been at Signal Hill Elementary since we opened in 2000, which was also when Prince William County Schools implemented this wonderful program. I definitely feel like I was in the right place at the right time! I LOVE my job; there is nothing more rewarding to me than seeing your children begin to express themselves using French and develop an understanding of how important the knowledge of a world language is! By the way, French is spoken officially in 28 countries of the world! Ooh-la-la! I am passionate about French, both from a teaching as well as a learning point of view! If I can instill even the tiniest bit of interest or passion in them, then I am satisfied, but hopefully the journey will continue on in middle and/or high school and college and beyond!         

Madame Ballvé  smiley face

*Signal Hill Elementary is one of six elementary schools in Prince William County, offering the WLES program. Two schools offer French, and four schools offer Spanish.