Eighteen North Providence children aged 8-12 got their first taste of the French language last semester through an honors project developed by CCRI student and her professor.
Alemattu Bility, an Elementary French student, and Maria Mansella, assistant professor of foreign languages and cultures, designed the 10 week extracurricular program to introduce young children to the study of a foreign language.
The group met each Friday after school for one-hour classes at North Providence's Union Free Library. Students presented a program of French recitations, songs and dance to families and friends on the final day, Friday, December 17, 1993.
From start to finish, the project combined a spirit of volunteerism with college and community resources for the enrichment of everyone involved.
"Our objective was to deliver to young children the message that studying foreign languages can be both fun and educational," Professor Mansella explains. Accordingly, she and Alemattu planned a variety of classroom activities. Students learned to speak, read and write some basic French. They studied conversational expressions, greetings, colors, numbers, foods and parts of the body. They also learned songs, performed skits and dances and created original artwork.
This approach worked, notes Alemattu, "The response from the students was very encouraging. They showed great interest and enthusiasm throughout the project. "One parent also observed, "It was wonderful to see a teacher volunteer her time, a college student take such initiative, and young children clamor to attend class - all on a Friday afternoon, no less."