french_immersion_weekend_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, an idyllic setting beside the Atlantic Ocean, was magically transformed into a little slice of France, courtesy of the efforts of 15 devoted teachers and 32 enthusiastic students, for the annual French Immersion Weekend.

Co-coordinators Caron Morton of Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach, and Marci York of The Benjamin School in Palm Beach Gardens, recently transformed a youth camp in Fort Lauderdale into an environment encouraging students to practice their French skills in every waking minute.

Throughout the weekend, the students, who are all in levels 3, 4, or 5 of their study of French, are required to interact with each other and the teachers only in French. There is a system of reward with buttons, but no grades are given. As only four students may come from a given school, the demand for places is competitive. The teachers also look forward to the opportunity to exchange best practices and to encourage those new to the profession.

The schools that participated and the teachers who volunteered their time at the French Immersion Weekend are:

Suncoast, Caron Morton, Silvia Demarchi; Dwyer High, Myria Rylee; Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Michael Anand; Atlantic, Sheri Faber;

Santaluces, AnneMarie Bouchard; Palm Beach Lakes, Ludie Milhomme, Rosmary Izquierdo; Boca Raton, Hakima Mancheri; Royal Palm Beach, Holly Casto; Benjamin, Marci York.

The food for the weekend, expertly provided by York, was decidedly French. There were games, races, crafts, canoeing, a camp fire, and a trip to the beach to round out the active weekend.

All this is made possible through the efforts of the teachers who volunteer for as much as the whole weekend or as little as a couple of hours. One student noted on her evaluation, “I loved the challenge of speaking to not only teachers, but other guests as well who spoke French.”

Begun by a group of three now retired teachers who envisioned a way to give students the chance to practice and build confidence in preparation for the Advanced Placement exam as well as for the state French competition, the French Immersion program is in its 21st year.

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FRANCAIS DAYS: It was all French, all the time for students at the annual French Immersion Weekend.