Lettre au ministère de l’Éducation
Dear Minister Lecce,
This is a message to reach out and thank you and share with you the difference that some funding I received over the summer has made to my students.
This past summer I participated in the French Teachers’ Program offered by Western University at their Trois-Pistoles, Quebec campus.
I teach core French in southwestern Ontario, where I answer the question: ‘why do we have to learn French?’ at least once a day, often accompanied by resistant behaviours, as the students genuinely don’t understand what it’s like to live in an officially bilingual country. I don’t blame them for that at all, and I see it as part of my job to show them that language is power, and therefore more languages can lead to more empowerment. That said, by the end of June last year, I often asked myself why I was doing all of this. All of the impacts of COVID were magnified for teachers like me who moved from one class to the next compared to those who teach in a home room. I didn’t have much left to give. And I wasn’t sure I had it in me to spend two weeks on professional development.
When I saw that there was a bursary available, I applied for it because I knew I had to do something to recharge and be ready for September.
While I went with some trepidation, it turned out I made the right choice. The program teaches the Neurolinguistic Approach (NLA) to language learning. What it comes down to is that the evidence that backs the approach comes from research in cognitive neurosciences, and this led to higher results on language proficiency and motivation.
The NLA examines the causes of poor performance beyond academic tests. It’s easy to assume that some students simply perform at lower levels because they are less able or because they are having a bad day, a bad week, or other challenges. The fact is, bad days, bad week and challenges can arise because the teaching method does not adequately engage students. As a consequence, their performance levels suffer and it is not because they are less able to learn a language.
I’m very much still learning and growing in it, but I want to tell you two stories:
- One of my students who is not always engaged and demonstrates a range of behavioural choices asked me one day as I was teaching in the NLA framework, ‘Madame, can we always have French like this?’
- Another student who struggles with anxiety to the point that a month ago he was not attending French at all, not only attends my classes now, but full-on participates.
My students are starting to feel the empowerment that comes with learning languages. I’m sure you can appreciate how Ontario would be strengthened by having more bilingual individuals spread throughout the province (rather than concentrated in certain communities) given that you work in government. From a government perspective, sending teachers to Quebec for $2000 costs you the same, if not less, than buying licenses for material from textbook publishers.
I’m making this new program available to my students, but it needs to be available to many more students to enable them to become bilingual. The refresher course in the middle of Quebec and the profound effect it has on the French proficiency of teachers as well as their ability to teach French is very valuable.
So, thank you for supporting this opportunity this past year. As you look forward to the new fiscal year, I sincerely hope that you continue to keep funds available for this program as the results are already benefiting students. I hope you continue to make this funding accessible both to new and previous participants.
If you wish to know more about the NLA and its implementation, I have asked Steeve Mercier to be available to answer more questions. Steeve was our instructor during the program in Trois-Pistole, and is the director of the International Center for Teaching and Research in the Neurolinguistic Approach and Neuroeducation (cifran.org) at: firstname.lastname@example.org