AIM – The Accelerative Integrated Method
Histoire en action! is a new approach to second language learning. This program is being adopted by school boards across the province and country. However, AIM is not new to Calvary Christian Academy. The school has been implementing this progressive program since 2004 and has experienced the benefits to its students.
What is so great about AIM?
The AIM French program is art based, as opposed to the usual thematic approach in former programs. Through storytelling and drama related activities, students learn to negotiate meaning in a context that is both motivating and fun. Music is closely linked to the story, as each unit contains a dance and songs that are linguistically related.
The vocabulary that is presented has been carefully selected, beginning with high frequency words. High frequency words are essential for the effective oral communication of students at varying levels. This vocabulary is acquired through a highly valuable kinesthetic method called The Gesture Approach. Essentially, each French word has been associated with a physical gesture. The GA encourages students to respond and experience vocabulary and structures while kinesthetically, visually, physically and auditorily meeting the needs of all language learners and their learning styles. This multi-modal approach helps students to understand, recall and use vocabulary effectively.
AIM has been successful in developing high rates of all four language skills in FSL students. The classroom design incorporates each skill into Teacher-led activities as well as Individual/Partner/Group activities. During Teacher-led activities students engage in listening, oral communication, and reading via interactive games (ex: Mme. Dit), play rehearsals, song rehearsals, inductive grammar teaching, and modeling of written activities, to name a few. Subsequently, students develop reading, writing and oral communication skills as they work on written assignments (ex: Les Phrases Bizarres, L’histoire dans tes propres mots) or oral activities (Les contraires, Decris le dessin etc.); these assignments are performed individually, with a partner or in small groups.
The Ministry of Education mandates a minimum of 600 hours of Core French learning by Grade 8. Some schools only begin Core French instruction in Grade 4. However, at Calvary Christian Academy students begin Core French instruction in Kindergarten for 15 minutes daily. Primary students (Grades 1-3) have a 30 minute French class daily. Junior (Grade 4-6) and Intermediate (Grade7-8) students have a 40 minute French class daily. Providing students with a daily French class allows for frequent and consistent practice of their second language. By the time students leave CCA in Grade 8 they have received over 800 hours of French instruction. Often our intermediate students are functionally bilingual, and have the skills and confidence to excel in High School French courses.
Our daughter was in the CCA core French program from kindergarten through Grade 8. There was a strong emphasis on oral skills, and she has always enjoyed and been confident speaking French. When she transitioned into high school, she found that she could write and communicate well beyond the requirements of the Grade 9 core French program, to the point where she felt she lacked challenge. She is currently in Grade 10, and continues to cope easily with the high school French curriculum. In our experience, CCA lays a more than adequate foundation for students studying core French. – The Gardiner Family