⟼Learning by doing⟻
Why does our language program work? Because campers learn by doing – the new vocabulary terms will stick because they physically have a paddle in hand, or they see something they need across the dining room table: "Passez-moi le lait, s'il-vous-plaît?" The experience of living the language, combined with the immediate practical application, is a successful formula when it comes to not only learning but retaining a new language.
Campers are evaluated on the basis of their ability to understand and speak their second language. If their language skills are still only at a basic level, they are assigned to a daily language class as one of their activity periods. Our Understanding classes aim to get campers to comprehend the instructions and day-to-day conversations that happen at camp. Once they are capable of doing so, they go on to Speaking classes, which teach campers how to answer general questions, express their needs, and converse with others. If they are considered proficient enough to start communicating with their peers, they may or may not take our optional Extended classes, which are project-based. All language classes are aimed to empower campers to function and develop relationships in a bilingual environment, by emphasizing practical and immediately applicable content.
⇥Language in the Dining Room⇤
We eat our meals family-style, around large tables with approximately ten campers and two staff members or CITs. The seating around the table alternates by mother tongue, so an Anglophone is seated between two Francophone campers, encouraging conversation between languages. The dining room is the main location where campers are asked to speak the Language of the Day to the best of their ability (asking for help from their neighbours beside them!), and we also make use of downtime between courses to play games or sing songs in the Language of the Day.
Each camper receives a two-colour bracelet upon arrival at camp, one side yellow and the other side green. We've found these to be extremely helpful as a reminder to all of us of what the Language of the Day is – because some campers will spend their swim class always speaking in their mother tongue, or their language class always speaking in their second language, it can sometimes be a challenge to keep track! Our staff came up with this suggestion to keep everyone on the same page: on French days, we wear the bracelet with the green side facing out, and on English days with the yellow side facing out, so you only need to look at your wrist to remember what language to speak!