As a new teacher, I felt that I had completed enough university courses for the time being. I started my bachelor of arts degree right after high school and moved right along to my bachelor of education degree the September following my convocation. After six years of university, never mind the 13 years I spent as a French immersion student in the Saanich school district, I had completed my teaching certificate and was starting the career I had dreamed of. I knew I was fully equipped to teach students at the elementary level, but when I thought of teaching students in the French immersion program, something was missing. I had no doubts that I could effectively teach them all that they needed to know and that they would move along in the French immersion program just as I had. After a short while, I realized that it was the methodology of teaching French immersion students that I wanted to learn more about.
Luckily, the department of Continuing Studies at the University of Victoria was offering a program that would be perfect: the Professional Specialization Certificate in Teaching French Immersion. The courses are offered to teachers around the province through online instruction during the school year and on-campus instruction during the summer. The program consists of four courses in a one-year period. The program was flexible enough that I could start taking courses in the summer and I was able to complete two of the courses at the same time. I spent the month of July at UVic, getting to know teachers from around the province and practising my French.
- Danielle Hall: Professional Specialization Certificate in Teaching French Immersion
During those summer weeks, I learned about teaching my students through oral language and many other strategies that support students who are learning a second language. After the summer courses were over, I was able to keep in touch with my colleagues through a forum during our online course in the fall. The experience of sharing my ideas and strategies through online conversations was valuable and effective, especially since I had already met my peers during the summer session. This pre-existing connection gave meaning to the conversations that we had on the forum and created a network for future sharing and communication about various aspects of our profession.
The courses in the program covered content relevant to teaching and enforced various strategies for teaching students in a second language. The courses explored many aspects of the education field, from the curriculum to lesson planning to parent and student expectations. The assignments related well to the reality of teaching in the classroom and the flexibility of the online courses accommodated the schedule of a full-time teacher.
Having just completed the certificate, I feel that this program has provided me with the "missing" piece that I was looking for in my role as a French immersion teacher. I have added to my repertoire of strategies and tools for teaching French immersion students and I feel that the knowledge that I have gained through my courses will prove to be valuable to both myself and my students in the French immersion classroom.