On Friday, April 29th, more than 250 students from high schools across Ottawa descended on uOttawa to enjoy a day of Francophone fun. The French Immersion students were there to attend the 8th annual French for the Future forum, hosted by uOttawa's French Immersion Studies program.
During the opening ceremonies, Marc Gobeil, Director of French Immersion Studies, said that the purpose of the day was to do something out of the ordinary and experience French in a dynamic setting - and uOttawa, which has been a bilingual institution for more than 150 years, was the ideal place for such an experience. Similarly, Mauril Bélanger, Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier, encouraged students to take advantage of the "harmonious marriage" of the French and English languages in Canada.
Fourth year student Nicole Tishler of Thornhill, Ontario, impressed the audience with her story of being a Core French student who decided she wanted to become fluently bilingual, and has since ended up completing more than half her university studies in French. Pre-recorded messages from uOttawa president Allan Rock, the band Simple Plan, and Cirque du Soleil’s Daniel Lamarre encouraged students to persevere in their study of French.
The students enjoyed a concert by the Marilou Martin band, which got the students moving with an acoustic set of popular Francophone and bilingual tunes. They were then treated to a traditional cabane à sucre lunch. Last but not least, the students climbed aboard the buses to go on a tour of downtown Ottawa and Gatineau and see some of the two cities' historic sites, including the Château Laurier, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and the monument to Maurice 'Rocket' Richard.
Later that evening, uOttawa hosted a bilingual dance party. A few lucky students walked away with door prizes including a $1,000 scholarship and an iPad 2.
But the day wasn't just for the students. During the festivities, their teachers had the opportunity to participate in a workshop discussing innovative and engaging strategies to teach French grammar. The workshop, taught by Professor Sheila Scott, presented fun ways to stimulate students' interest in learning French, such as using clips from YouTube and Radio-Canada programs.
French for the Future is a not-for-profit organization that supports and motivates high school students on their path towards bilingualism. They can be visited online at their website.