There is a paramount need for French Canadians to be able to express themselves in English. In Vaudreuil-Soulanges, there is also a demand from Anglophones who wish to learn French while continuing to develop their comprehension and production skills in English. Although most Academy Vaudrin students are now minimally fluently bilingual with a strong third language, about 35% come from a French family, 35% are from an English family, and 30% have another first language including Spanish.
Our goal is for every student to be able to excel in English Language Arts and Français Langue Maternelle. In addition, the Spanish offered at our school is more advanced than the second languages (French or English) offered in other schools. Vaudrin Academy responds to the challenge of teaching every child three languages in a unique and effective way.
Since our language specialists usually teach the same kids for years, every teacher knows every student very well. There is no wasted time at the beginning of each school year since they know every child’s interests, strengths, learning styles, and challenges. In addition, all teachers communicate with each other daily as soon as any issue comes up. Administrators and teachers also lunch together regularly to exchange ideas and come up with solutions for every situation.
There is a common concern that kids will get “all mixed up” if they learn several languages at the same time. This is true if they are not taught properly. For example, if the child is exposed to a parent or teacher who mixes up French and English in the same sentence, chances are that the learner will model that speech pattern. On the other hand, if all teachers consistently speak the taught language clearly and precisely, then the students will more likely use the languages correctly.
Furthermore, we focus more on the process and notions than on actual outcomes at Vaudrin Academy. This means that instead of only looking at the final product, we prefer to ask our students to define the problem, analyze the situation, and find different solutions. Concretely, when teachers teach a specific reading skill or grammar point, they always ask students how they would transfer this new knowledge to other languages or subjects. We are thus increasing their meta-cognitive awareness, or their ability to think about what they have just learned.
All students are given ample opportunities to be exposed to the languages being acquired. Through play and active student participation, the students quickly become at ease in other languages which leads to a greater understanding of their peers and surroundings. To provide the needed language exposure to become trilingual, we keep an equal ratio of Spanish, French, and English staff members.