Mom and daughter eager for French immersion challenge

Diane Crocker
Published on July 17, 2014
Jenna King,12, poses with her mom Lynn at their home in Corner Brook Wednesday, July 16, 2014. Jenna will be one of 27 students in the late French immersion program that will be offered at Corner Brook Intermediate starting in September.
Geraldine Brophy

When Jenna King entered kindergarten, her parents made the decision that she would study in English.

Lynn King said it just made sense at the time.

The family moved to Corner Brook when her older son started kindergarten. With Sacred Heart Elementary being just down the road from their home, that’s where he, and eventually Jenna, were enrolled.

Sacred Heart didn’t offer French immersion, so for Jenna to enter the early immersion program she would have to attend C.C. Loughlin, some distance away.

“I didn’t have any exposure to French immersion in school and I was just unsure how it would have played out,” said Lynn off her apprehensions at the time.

She and her husband Rick grew up in St. Anthony where there is no French immersion. She did some French in high school, but he didn’t, so the concept of learning in French was new to them.

This past winter though, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District started the process to introduce late French immersion in the city. The program, which until now only existed in the eastern region, sees students enter a French immersion program in Grade 7.

Jenna will be among the first 27 students to enter the program when she moves into junior high at the new Corner Brook Intermediate this fall.

“She’s ready for it now,” said Lynn. “She’s very, very excited to go into it. She’s been practising her French.”

This time around, the decision to sign on to the program was mostly Jenna’s.

She did an intensive core French program at Sacred Heart and it was her teacher there who got her excited about the possibility of the late French immersion program in junior high.

Jenna said her best friend will also be in the program, so that was something that drew her to it.

But at 12 years old, she’s also looking toward the future.

“For getting jobs and stuff, I thought that would be a good thing to have,” Jenna said.

When asked if she’s concerned about making the switch from learning in English to learning in French, she says “a little bit, but not really.”

“I was mostly concerned about math, but numbers are numbers whether French or English.”

Jenna also sees being in the French immersion program as a good thing what with moving into a new school and larger classes in the English stream.

“I know that there’s so many kids going in the new school. So, it’s going to be very nice that the French immersion is only going to have 27 people.”

Lynn is pleased to see that Jenna has such a positive attitude about the change. Jenna’s even told her mom that the worst-case scenario is that she fails, which she quickly countered with “and you know I’m not going to fail.”

Jenna’s also said that if she doesn’t do well or doesn’t like the program, she can always switch back to English in Grade 8.

Because Jenna does well in school — she’s got a hundred average — Lynn is not too concerned with how the change will impact her daughter’s marks.

After attending information sessions on the program she’s also not worried that her lack of French background will prevent her from helping Jenna.

“They said that parents don’t need to know anything, everything is going be taught in school.”