Dual language education
An immersion program reconstructs the initial language learning process that develops between a parent and a young child. The language is spoken, not taught. Children learn a second language in the classroom in the same way they have learned their native tongue at home: by immersion. The teachers adopt a very visual and lively way of expressing themselves: pointing, miming, and amplifying facial expressions and voices to guide children as quickly as possible through the carefully-monitored learning process.
At FASRI, our two-way immersion program regroups students coming from both French and English backgrounds. Language is acquired smoothly during the first phase of the immersion process through activities, songs, play and imitation; language is the vehicle for instruction, not the content.
During the first years of immersion, French takes up a large portion of the school day. Until Grade 2, 80-90% of instruction is provided in French. After Grade 3, students have approximately equal amounts of instruction in both languages.
Dual language education introduces students to concepts and skills in one language or the other. Students then transfer this knowledge between the two, broadening their skills and proficiency. Although dual language students may perform at 80% of their monolingual peers in each language, they outperform them overall.
A successful immersion program builds over time. It takes 6 to 9 years for our students to reach grade-level proficiency in both French and English. Literacy is a skill we learn once and are able to translate to other languages. Our students first learn to read and write in French in Grade 1 and develop skills in English literacy in Grades 2 and 3, all the while strengthening their competence in both languages.
FASRI's immersion program runs from Pre-school through Kindergarten.
Dual language program
FASRI's dual language program provides its students with literacy and content instruction in two languages, allowing them to develop cross-cultural proficiencies that promote bilingualism and biliteracy. Students acquire grade-level academic achievement in both French and English through their first years of dual education, or by Grade 4, by transferring academic content from one language to another.
According to United Nations figures, up to 80% of the world is bilingual, and a large portion of that 80% is trilingual. Speaking more than one language is not an unusual skill and need not be perceived as something exceptional. Being bilingual not only means being able to communicate in two languages, but it opens many doors of opportunity in all aspects of a bilingual's life.
Some advantages of learning a second language:
- Communication: literacy in two languages and the ability to communicate with broader range of people
- Culture: understanding of and sensitivity to different cultures; acceptance of others' differences and diversity in general
- Intellect: development of analytical skills, adaptability and flexibility of thought, increased creativity and problem-solving skills
A dual language program requires knowledge, planning and structure. FASRI's faculty is carefully selected with grade-specific, language-teaching experience. Teachers are native in the language they teach and are all proficient in the partner language. Professional development is encouraged and provided.
Our general curriculum is challenging and enriching, reflects the School's values, and responds to the standards of two accrediting bodies: the French Ministry of Education and the Rhode Island Department of Education. Technology is fully-integrated into the curriculum as a tool to support learning and achievement. A language component is included in all areas of the curriculum, and all teachers foster a high level of language proficiency and critical thinking.
Differentiated pedagogy, project-based learning, creative techniques of instruction, student-teacher interaction, and collaboration among faculty members are necessary ingredients for the success of our students.
In 201/11, at FASRI we are currently developing our curriculum framework by harmonizing the French and English programs, integrating our defined 21st Century skills, and defining new assessment formats that will empower our students, energize their desire to learn, and help them succeed in high school, college and beyond. In addition, there are new classroom practices which have demonstrated themselves to be very well suited to the needs of students today. For instance, we have selected the Reggio Emilia approach as a source of inspiration for our faculty. Our goal is for it to foster collaboration and creativity among the teachers, promote parent participation, and place our students in the driver's seat of their own learning. This constructivist approach will be tailored to our unique program and developed over the next two years at FASRI.
A positive and caring school environment, a strong collaboration between school and families, and a supportive community are essential elements of a well-run dual language program.
Additional language support opportunities in French are offered through the Afterschool program and activities, and vacation camps. Help with homework and tutoring are also available daily through the Afterschool program.