At the French American Academy, a unique feature of our school year is when students invite their parents into our classes for a breakfast showcasing bilingual projects. Our bilingual lessons, when teachers and students collaborate in French and English to create projects that emphasize knowledge building and language sharing, are some of the most worthwhile moments in our classes. The mix of exciting academic projects with communicative language activities stimulates students’ minds and builds cognitive capacity, and naturally we wish to share these positive outcomes with families.
Celebrating Bilingualism Together
It’s no exaggeration to say that our bilingual lessons are truly what makes our school special. After a few years’ pause due to Covid, we can once again celebrate our blend of languages and academics by inviting families into our classes for a presentation. Studying and collaborating to create the project, rehearsing and preparing the presentation, and finally performing or explaining it for an audience is highly beneficial for learners. Their knowledge of the subject material is reinforced while their public speaking skills are refined. Parents also benefit from witnessing the bilingual process, enjoying a window into our unique collaborative environment.
What is The Prix Albertine?
Frequently, FAA bilingual breakfast presentations center around work that classes have done on Prix Albertine, or Albertine Prize, books and projects. These books are chosen cooperatively by two entities: Albertine, a French language bookstore that is “A project of the cultural services of the French Embassy”, and the French pedagogical advisor for the North American zone of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE). The books are available in both English and French and all fit within a theme that changes yearly. For 2023, we are reading books with the theme of “coexisting”. After reading and learning about 4 books, students across the North American zone cast their votes to choose the book they think should win the Albertine Prize.
The Albertine books are carefully curated, and they provide many rich avenues for learning and growth. Teachers and classes are free to select how to structure their Albertine project. For example, students might extend their learning by creating and recording additional illustrations and stories related to the source material. They could also zoom in on comparative grammar elements. Some may choose to explore other works that are connected to the same themes as the Albertine books. Teachers work to structure students’ understanding and expand their worldview throughout the bilingual project, and during the parents’ breakfast, students are allowed to demonstrate their deepened comprehension by displaying and explaining the work they did.
Other Bilingual Projects
While many FAA classes take advantage of the Albertine books and resources, some may choose to organize their bilingual parents’ breakfast around a different theme they’ve explored during bilingual lessons. Any moment that a child shares with their teachers, parents, and classmates, in which they are positioned as an expert sharing knowledge and demonstrating collaboration, is valuable and beneficial for them. One memorable bilingual breakfast I particularly enjoyed was a science and art presentation on the theme of balance. First, our kindergarten students presented the experiments and projects in which they participated to learn all about balance, and then parents and students collaborated to create artistic mobiles using found objects. It was a joyous and messy shared project! This year, some of our classes are focusing on math or science concepts, outdoor education, and publishing their own books, among many other things.
Learning By Sharing, Bilingually!
Regardless of the subject matter, when we invite parents into our classrooms to witness our bilingual learning, we validate children’s expertise while building their cognitive connections and fostering a sense of community. We pride ourselves in helping families create meaningful shared experiences and connecting children’s school life with their home life. Our hope is that in designing these collaborative moments, the value of bilingualism will spread beyond our school’s walls and deepen ties among our families and communities, for a more collaborative, joyous world!