The FLSco programme opens our doors to non-French speaking students and aims at promoting diversity in our community. To go deeper on this topic, we discuss with Lisa Robichet today, one of our FLSco teachers in Yangpu Primary School.
I am initially a FLE (French as Foreign Language) teacher and arrived in China in 2017. Between 2017 and my beginning at LFS, I worked in French Alliances but was more focused on teaching adults, even though I did teach a few children along the way. I developed a stronger interest in teaching children around that time. When I received a job offer from LFS to teach FLSco (French as Language of Schooling) to children, it really piqued my interest. When I joined the school, I went through additional training in FLSco.
Each class is different, depending on the level, age, and personality of each student. There is no standard class type. We have routines, but we can do things very differently from one class to another. Our time schedules are not as fixed as classroom teachers’. We coordinate everything to know the different topics in advance so we can better prepare the notions children need to understand in class.
I personally teach younger students in K3 and Grade 1, so I use a lot of images, PPT presentations, videos, and songs to make the learning experience as fun as possible. We play a lot of games in class.
We first teach students vocabulary allowing them to describe their surroundings. Once the vocabulary is learnt, we add syntax to make correct sentences, so that students can exchange more easily with their teachers, volunteer parents, classmates, the school life department, and communicate beyond the classroom. Step by step, we make longer sentences, add grammar and build their learning.
Oh, I have the entire world in my class. (Laughs) In three years at LFS, I have had students with very different backgrounds. We have a lot of Chinese or Sino-French students, but I also taught Spanish, Italian, English, Swedish, Korean, and Mexican students. It allowed me to refresh some of my foreign languages like Spanish. (Laughs)
I did a bachelor’s degree unrelated to education, as I wasn’t certain about what I wanted to do back then. I studied cultural mediation to become a museum guide, as I was interested in transmitting knowledge. I met my best friend at University, she is Korean and was learning French at the time. I often helped her with French in our free time. (Laughs)
I then studied a master’s degree in languages didactics with a specialty in French as Foreign Language, followed by internships abroad. Strangely, I first started to do internships in schools. I worked in Thailand and Ukraine, in Primary and Secondary schools.
My first job was based in Limerick, Ireland, where I taught in a girls’ school. After a year, I felt like changing and going as far away as I possibly could to live a new experience. I saw a job offer for a FLE teacher position in Nanjing French Alliance, I jumped on it and arrived in China in 2017. I spent a few years there before moving to Hangzhou in January 2020, literally three days before Covid. (Laughs) I stayed there for a year and a half and was then recruited by LFS in August 2021.
At LFS, we can access different trainings, I was able to study a University Certificate to educate myself to the classroom teacher profession because I think there are many more bridges to build between the FLSco sphere and classroom teachers.
That is a difficult question! (Laughs) One of the moments that make me the proudest is to observe children who, at the beginning of the school year maybe felt aside because they couldn’t understand everything, join and exchange with native French speakers at the end of the year. This is something my colleagues and myself truly cherish.
We teachers are also happy to have parents paying us a visit because they remember us and the impact we had on their child’s life. This year again, during an Open House, a parent came to see me even though I had had his child in class in my first year at LFS!
Observing our students during ASC, exchanging and playing with other students in French, fully integrated in our school, is really something that makes me happy.
Being inclusive, welcoming everyone, giving each student an equal chance to succeed, whether they are native French speakers, are truly the foundations of the FLSco programme.
If Covid played a role in the decrease of our Franco-French community, we are observing a strong change in the profile of our FLSco students. I think it reinforces what LFS has been working on these past few years, which is to be an actor in the French-speaking world in the education industry.
Being open to others allows our students to be more open-minded, which is a quality they will need in the future. I wish I had evolved in this kind of environment when I was a child, in my little village near Toulouse, France. Children here get to exchange with classmates who sometimes come from a completely different culture. I think it is essential to create adults who will be kind towards others.
FLSco enriches our school culture, as well as our personal culture. We celebrate Halloween, we celebrate Chinese New Year, we also celebrate French festivities.
I always allow my students to say things in their mother tongue as well, I don’t want them to reject it. I give them the choice to build their own identity. Having FLSco students can benefit the whole class, not only thanks to the education provided by the teacher, but also by what children learn and discover in others.
The French-speaking community in Shanghai is not only made of native French people. We wouldn’t have such a strong relationship with China if we didn’t have in our community French-speaking Chinese people. I think having FLSco students is a chance for our school and our families. We can all be proud of participating in our Shanghai French-speaking community.
To finish with, I would like to remind that our FLSco students wouldn’t be learning French as well as they are without the work of my colleagues: classroom teachers, English and Chinese teachers, the school life team, librarians, the nurses, and psychologist, and more. It is important to thank them for their patience, and their availability for students (and teachers)!