Prince Rupert Middle School student’s French lessons were given a dramatic twist on Nov. 22.
The school, in partnership with Prince Rupert chapter of Canadian Parents for French, invited Zak Tardif, a drama coach with Théâtre La Seizième, to facilitate a theatre workshop for the school’s Grade 7 and 8 students.
“It’s really good to see kids using their French, responding in French and it’s very high energy,” said Irene LaPierre, Superintendent for School District 52, who observed the workshop. “He certainly had their attention and control of the class and the kids are learning a lot so it’s great.”
Tardif led the class in a series of icebreaker exercises to begin the workshop, most of which involved movement and loud use of the French they have studied so far this year. He said using movement and getting active can be a more effective way to teach a second language than just teaching in a formal, sit-down setting.
“I think kids are naturally more physical and have a lot of energy, so this sort of workshop helps them to get that out,” he said. “It also teaches them to have permission to express emotions. Sometimes we tell kids if they’re angry to not feel that way, but in my workshop, I really encourage them to really get out what they’re feeling and to get in touch with their emotions and getting moving and get active.”
Tardif does 40-50 workshops per year throughout the province, and while there are physical elements to the activities, practicing French is still the primary focus and end goal.
“I’m bilingual so if they don’t know the word in French, they’ll say it in English and I’ll say it and I’ll get them to say it to make sure they’re articulating it,” he said. “I think it’s a different type of activity that they would have in a regular French class but it’s a really interesting and unique way to learn and practice your French.”