NORTH SALT LAKE—“Regardez!” “Numero un.” “Ca marche!”
Things sound different in Francois Gayral’s class at Foxboro Elementary, where students are learning to round numbers.
It’s time for math and Gayral, who is originally from Bordeau but is now in his second year in the United States, is helping his fifth and sixth graders learn a concept in mathematics, all while speaking in French.
The same thing is happening down the hall and around the corner, in the second grade class taught by Julien Pessin of Normandy.
Jean-Pierre Rangassamy of New Caledonia is nearby, teaching third graders another concept, also in French.
Foxboro is one of three schools in Davis School District to earn the designation of LabelFrancÉducation this month from the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development.
“Our school is recognized for using the language for different subjects – for math, science and social studies – and also for teaching about culture,” said Rangassamy. “The award looks at what we offer to students.”
Besides studying math, science and social studies in French, students learn how to prepare crepes, for example, and at times perform plays in French.
Pessin said students in the program could find their way around Paris without a problem after completing their second grade studies.
“If I give them a topic – like the moon for science – they can say 10 sentences about it,” he said. “Usually the aim is for a student to be able to say two or three sentences on a topic, but we go way beyond.”
The award, he said, “is a very good recognition.”Pessin emphasized that everyone can do well in language studies.
“Every profile in the world fits in here,” he said.
Louison Girault has only been in Utah for three weeks. As a teacher’s aide, he will help teach small groups or individually.
He is impressed that students at Foxboro speak French “at the same level as 20-year-olds speak English in France.”
“In this school every kid wants to learn,” he said. “They all raise their hands and participate and speak.”
Unlike other districts, Davis students can begin their language studies in kindergarten.
Next year is the first year that students who have studied French throughout their elementary school experience – often learning from native speakers – will be going to junior high.
Their understanding of the language is so advanced that new honors classes are being planned at that level and students will likely take the AP French test in ninth grade, according to Kevin Prusse, principal at Foxboro.
He listens, impressed and pleased, as students and teachers continue to work together.
“C’est la meme chose?” “D’accord.” “Tres bien.”