Language builds bridges, French ambassador tells students

Becoming multilingual is key in breaking down barriers for young generations to become true citizens in the global village of today and the future.

That was the message from Nicolas Chapuis, France’s ambassador to Canada who paid a quick visit to Anderson Elementary, a French immersion school, on Monday.

article continues below

“The world is a global village, and if we want to prepare our children to become world citizens then we have to provide the language tools in order to do so,” said Chapuis who brought a smile of wonderment to many students in the City Centre school — which has an enrolment of about 60 per cent ESL students — by addressing them not only in French, but in Mandarin, as well.

“The challenge is, of course, to be able to make sure there’s an opportunity for young kids to become bilingual everywhere in the country,” Chapuis said. “To be bilingual is to be Canadian.” Too often, bilingual capacities are understood as separation of communities, he added.

“A community that speaks French, a community that speaks English. What this school does, like many other schools, is not that; it’s to make sure that English or any other language, kids have the chance to become truly bilingual.”

Diane Tijman, director with Canadian Parents for French, and district curriculum coordinator with the Richmond School District, said the ambassador — who also speaks Mongol — selected the Richmond school for its unique community of students, many of whom are essentially trilingual, to better understand how their language needs are supported.

“Why are new immigrants wanting their children to learn French?,” Tijman said. “We could theorize about that, but I think it’s wonderful. It’s a challenge for us, because it’s introducing a second and third language at the same time.”

Asked what he’d like to accomplish during his term as France’s ambassador, Chapuis said, “Very often the schools lack the financial means to do it (become bilingual). So, we are trying to devise ways and means to deliver the services. If I can accomplish that, I will be a very happy ambassador.”




Read Related Topics

© Richmond News


NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Richmond News welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus
Best of Richmond