A Bilingual Classroom
Fred Genesee, professor of psychology at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, an expert in bilingual research, tells us that:
“All children are capable of learning two languages in childhood”
“Bilingual acquisition is a common and normal childhood experience”
“Bilingual acquisition is facilitated if children have sustained, rich, and varied experiences in both languages”
In our Toddler’s classroom, English and French language are spoken in complement of each other. We do not “translate”, we scaffold on building vocabulary.
For example, the child can be playing with cars and the interaction with the teachers will go:
– “Are you playing with the car?” (tu joues a la voiture?)
– “tu fais rouler la voiture…” (you are rolling your car…)
– “it’s rolling on the shelf…” (elle roule sur l’étagère…)
– “la voiture est rouge…” (the car is red…)
The goal is to provide as much vocabulary in both languages around the same concept, so that fluency and understanding is built at the same time.
For the same reason, nursery rhymes and poetry are selected based on their cultural relevance and a common subject. They echo each other’s while retaining their specificity.