Emily Crane of Blacksburg High School attends French immersion academy at Washington & Lee
On parle francais!
This has been an important phrase for 60 Virginia high school students for three weeks at the Virginia Governor’s French Immersion Academy at Washington and Lee University in Lexington. From June 23-July 14, the French Academy’s students have lived their lives completely in French to boost their abilities to use the language.
Emily Crane, a senior at Blacksburg High School, was among those who arrived in Lexington on June 23. After pledging to speak French exclusively, she and the other students proceeded to eat, sleep, and breathe francais.
Students learn, not in the ordinary way with textbooks and CDs, but by really using the language in the cafeteria, in the dorm, on the soccer field, as well as in the classroom. Participants attend creative classes such as France of Today, the Culture of Quebec, Phonetics, the Culture of Belgium, and Arabic each morning (including Saturdays) to encourage them to take an active part in their learning.
The language immersion extends beyond the classroom with afternoon activities such as cooking, sport, and visual and performing arts. Students’ writing and photography skills are developed through journals, a yearbook, videos, and weekly newspapers. All activities are hands-on and in real-life situations, making language acquisition meaningful, practical, and lasting.
The Virginia Department of Education sponsors five Governor’s Foreign Language Academies each summer where students are nurtured and language skills are cultivated. Participating students were selected through a statewide competition. CBS News and USA Today have featured the academies as examples of innovative foreign language programs. In addition, Virginia Commonwealth University hosts STARTALK Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, and Russian Academies, which operate concurrently with the Governor’s Academies.
– Submitted by Katherine Baker
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