French Summer Camp
Each year the Department of French and Italian sponsors a thirteen-day French Summer Camp for high-school students.
The French Summer Camp has been held on the BYU Campus every June since 2010. Last year, seventy-two high-school students attended the 2014 camp. Participants came from across the United States (fourteen states) and from three foreign countries. More than half stayed in BYU dorms. The Department of French and Italian supports the camp by providing two fulltime faculty members, Robert Erickson as the camp director and Chantal Thompson as a French instructor. Two other professional French teachers from local school districts, David Nielsen and Charlotte Finlinson, also teach French classes at the camp. Participants attend language classes every morning and then go to workshops in the afternoon. The workshops, taught mostly by current or former BYU French majors, include writing, performance, arts and crafts, cooking, media and games. During the camp students also attend French faculty presentations on Francophone culture, try their hand at fencing and learn to play pétanque (a French game played with metal balls). Students created a blog in their writing workshop and prepared a talent show for parents in the performance workshop.
Based on pre- and post-tests of speaking and overall French ability, almost every student makes significant progress; however, parents and teachers report the biggest gains are in speaking fluency and confidence.
French Teachers Institute
The Department of French and Italian offers a French Teachers Institute (FTI) every three years for practicing junior and senior high-school French teachers.
The purpose of the Institute is to help teachers improve, renew, or acquire qualifications in French language, culture, and teaching. Robert Erickson is the Institute director; he recruits participants, teaches institute courses, and organizes activities in France. Participation is limited to four or five French teachers. The Summer 2012 FTI had four participants—two high-school and two junior-high teachers. The Institute offers three graduate-level courses: Teaching, Listening, and Speaking Skills (SLaT 611); Teaching and Learning about Culture (SLaT 613); and Advanced Oral and Written Communication (French 690R). Participants study on-campus for three weeks and then three and a half weeks in France. Teachers return to their classrooms with increased proficiency in French plus knowledge and teaching materials that improve student learning. Teaching materials include shared lesson plans with all supporting materials (digital photos, realia, recorded oral passages, etc.) based on teaching materials collected while in France. Lesson plans are guided by principles studied during both the on-campus and in-country segments of the institute. The in-France portion of the program provides an immersion experience with participants speaking French daily with the French and with each other. The in-France period always includes trips outside Paris with the objective of helping teachers get acquainted with non-tourist aspects of the areas they teach about. The summer 2012 group went on five side-trips outside of Paris. The participants planned and directed trips to Rouen, Etretat, and Le Havre. In past years, students have gone to Colmar, Strasbourg, Metz, Verdun and Luxembourg.
Even years later, participants report using in their French classrooms the lessons and materials they prepared and shared during the Institute.