Clipper Staff Writer
KAYSVILLE — Gilles Bouvier, who has come to Utah from Bordeaux, France, thinks that the students at Morgan Elementary speak French better than he speaks English.
He hopes his year-long internship in Davis County will make both their French and his English better.
Bouvier is one of 10 interns that will be helping in schools with language immersion programs this year.
Others hail from Spain and Columbia, as well as other areas of France.
“It’s absolutely incredible,” said Jeff Barlow, a long-term substitute teacher at Foxboro Elementary whose second-grade students are being helped along by Melissa Billaud, also of Bordeaux.
“They hear beautiful French with a perfect accent,” he said of his students.
Besides help with the language, having another pair of hands in the classroom is a benefit, said Barlow, as children who learn at different speeds can have additional help.
All of the international interns are also working on degrees at universities in their home countries.
Already, Billaud has observed that American classrooms have more participation.
“It’s a very good method to teach,” she said. “It’s different but it works well. Everybody can particpate and be interested in what we’re saying.”
Classrooms in France are more strict, she said, and students often don’t dare to speak.
“To raise the hand and talk – that’s very good,” she said.
When training the interns earlier this year, Rita Stevenson, director of elementary science and immersion programs in the district, asked interns to use their native tongue when in the classroom, to help kids along with their language training.
“You are bringing not only your language, but you’re bringing your culture to the schools,” said Stevenson.
Students stay with host families throughout the school year, something that will help develop their English skills.
“It’s a win-win situation,” said Stevenson.
“It’s been a great experience,” said Ana Martinez, who is in Davis County from Spain. “The family is really nice. People in general here are really helpful.”
Martinez is impressed with the technology as well.
“I like to be with the teacher and take care of the students, give advice,” said Billaud. “I love doing lessons and interacting with everyone. Everybody is nice here. I am very welcomed. I feel good about being here.”