Melissa Souliere Testimonial, Coventry Village School
Hear from an educator at Coventry Village School, where world language courses are being offered for the first time through Middlebury Interactive Languages.
“My name is Melissa Souliere. I am a teacher at Coventry Village School. I teach fifth and sixth grade French, math and social studies. My background in French language is really, I just took foreign language classes in high school, but that has helped me to prepare for teaching the foreign language class through Middlebury.
“Students have been able to take their learning in the classroom outside of the classroom by interacting with their families because this area has a large number of French Canadian families. So they're able to talk with maybe grandparents or cousins that may be from Canada. That is right across the border from us.
“In this area of northern Vermont, there are a lot of French Canadian families, and a lot of our students are from those French Canadian families. So a good skill that the students have learned from this program is being able to take what they're learning in the classroom and apply it outside of the classroom through discussions with family members of their French Canadian families.
“As their teacher, I am trying to incorporate French in not just our foreign language time. I'm trying to incorporate it in math class, in social studies class, and any other times that I see the kids, whether it's in the classroom or the hallway or the cafeteria. For example, we might have just a short conversation, hello, how are you today? And I try to start the conversation in French, and most of the fifth and sixth graders respond in French. So it's kind of cool to show off those skills in front of other people.
“The feedback from parents has been pretty positive. They're wanting their kids to go out and experience these new things, and I think it's pretty rare that a second grader or a fifth grader gets to take French class in graded school. Usually it's just a high school course. So parents are definitely taking that, and they're respecting our choice to do this, and they have also put in their input that this is something that they wanted in the school that we're implementing.
“In addition, we recently went to Jay Peak with some students and parents, and some of the students overheard some other patrons there speaking in French. And they were like, oh mom, listen to them, they're speaking French. And that was a really cool connection to see.
“In addition to learning the program through the computer, we've tried to take it a step further and take the curriculum and create some fun games for the kids to use. So for example, the game Headbands—we'll take a sticky note, and we'll put the word ‘bonjour’ on our forehead, and the other student has to guess what it is by us saying it in English, and they have to say it in French.
“Another one is French Hangman. The kids really enjoy that, whether they do it with a partner on their white boards or whether we do it all together on the board. Another game that they have created is the fortunetellers, where they just pop the paper around in their hands. And they have to count to, say, the number six in French. And then they pop the color up, and they have to say the color in French. And then there's a question underneath that that is in French. So they're getting multiple ways of getting that curriculum just besides sitting in front of the computer.”