FSL at GL
During my first year at Glendon, I was surprised at the incompetence of the FSL program. For a bilingual campus that
welcomes students from all levels of French, I had expected the FSL program to be more effective and provide students with at least a basic conversational level of French.
The biggest problem with the program is that it is mostly writing-based. From FSL 1100 to 2100, students essentially complete the same work, but this workload simply increases as they move through the FSL stream. The activities and worksheets completed throughout all levels are generally similar in their approaches and objectives. The groupes des discussions that students participate in are little more than reading off a script, and do not provide a conversational environment within the classroom. Obviously, it is difficult to promote discussion based learning in a classroom setting. However, the small attempt made to promote class discussions within the FSL program is unsatisfactory.
Grammar and writing exercises are certainly an important component in learning a new language. Conjugation obviously requires students to study to material on paper through grammar exercises. Specifically, the difference between le passé composé and l’imparfait usually takes a while for FSL students to master. However, it becomes a problem when these are the sole tasks students are expected to complete in FSL courses. Unfortunately, it is very easy for a student to complete the FSL program and be bilingual on paper, without being able to carry on a conversation in French.
Fortunately for students, the Explore program is strongly promoted at Glendon. The five week immersion program pushes students to communicate in French and develop their skills. Although the effectiveness of the program also varies according to the student’s chosen Explore destination, students who complete the program in predominantly Francophone environments generally improve their French far more than they would by taking an FSL course. This opportunity is definitely one of the most effective resources Glendon presents to it’s students along with Le Salon Francophone.
Essentially the effectiveness of each FSL course depends on how far the professor is willing to stray from the curriculum. Some FSL professors at Glendon are adamant about promoting speaking only French and speaking it frequently in their classrooms, which helps students develop their speaking skills.
Glendon’s bilingualism is deeply rooted in its institutions. Unfortunately, this bilingualism does not reflect strongly when it comes to the FSL program. In order for students coming from non-French backgrounds to be bilingual leaders in alignment with Glendon’s leadership vision, they require a strong FSL education. The French education provided to students must be stronger in terms of giving students the confidence they need in their verbal, written, and listening skills. Otherwise, the student’s bilingualism is just on paper.