Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers/Association canadienne des professeurs de langues secondes
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2005 Recipient of the H.H. STERN

Innovation in Second Languages Award
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"Second Languages Matter"

Nicole Roy, B.C.

Peer Tutoring in French Immersion/FSL Schools

Description of the project:

The Peer Tutoring Programme, aimed at fostering literacy in French Immersion, originated at Lord Tennyson School, in Vancouver, British Columbia in September 1998, as a result of a unique partnership between Nicole Roy, a dedicated learning assistance teacher, and Mary Chipman, a parent interested in the acquisition of literacy skills.

The programme is designed for almost fluent Grade 2 and 3 readers, with no major learning difficulties, who would benefit from extra reading support. These students are paired with trained tutors from Grades 5, 6 and 7. Tutors and readers meet in the library twice a week for a 30 minute guided reading session during the silent reading segment of class time. In a school year, there are three tutoring terms averaging eight weeks each.

The programme is implemented by a teacher and a parent coordinator (core team). Parent volunteers help set up the programme and assist in supervising the sessions by interacting with tutors and readers.

The uniqueness of this Peer Tutoring Programme lies in its system of teaching tutors/parent volunteers the many facets of tutoring in terms of reading strategies, organization and communication at many different levels. Being systematic, this programme can be implemented in different French Immersion/FSL schools. Indeed, the programme has been running in a number of schools in British Columbia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan since last year.

This Peer Tutoring programme was studied by Monique Bournot-Trites of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Evaluating the programme (British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, May 2001), and in Peer tutoring : a parent-school initiative to improve reading in French Immersion Primary Grades (CPF 2004; please see http://www.cpf.ca for a link to this report). In her latest survey, Bournot-Trites found that readers show an improvement in their French reading skills, their motivation to read and their attitude to French language learning. Tutors also benefit greatly from the programme by gaining self-esteem, as well as learning valuable teaching and leadership skills. The survey revealed a great desire amongst tutors to help their young peers and contribute to their school in a positive fashion. Adult participants of the programme, from parents of tutors and readers, parent volunteers to teachers, found the programme to be an important resource for all the students concerned.

After 7 years, this programme is still an integral part of Lord Tennyson’s educational commitment to support students in their literacy and social development. The fact that last year 6 schools from across Canada implemented this programme is in itself a testimony of its success.

To make this programme available to all French Immersion/FSL schools across Canada, Canadian Parents for French, supported by a grant from Canadian Heritage, commissioned Nicole Roy and Mary Chipman to write a manual and produce a DVD on all aspects of Peer Tutoring in an Immersion/FSL setting. They hope that many more schools will show interest and acquire the manual and DVD to establish the Peer Tutoring Programme. The growth in the number of schools taking on this project will be a key factor in evaluating this project.

Joan Hawkins, Manager, Research and Development for Canadian Parents for French states: “We applaud Nicole Roy for her positive contribution to French-second-language learning. Learners made significant gains in French reading proficiency and parents felt more comfortable keeping their children in immersion programs”.

Autobiography of Nicole Roy

Nicole’s educational career spans over 28 years, first as a physical educator in Quebec, then moving to Vancouver to teach in the French Programme Cadre, and finally dedicating myself to the French Immersion Programme for the past 23 years, including the last 19 years as a Resource Teacher. During the time, she has also taught at University of British Columbia (UBC) in the Special Education Department; co-written, with colleagues and parents, a number of literacy support documents for French Immersion/FSL; and implemented two significant literacy programmes, including the Peer Tutoring Programme.

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