Lisa Browne Peters
Choosing a career is undoubtedly one of life’s most important decisions. Looking back on it now, it is difficult to pinpoint one particular moment or event that drew me to my career choice. It just seems that becoming a French teacher was something that I always wanted to do. Much of my inspiration undoubtedly came from having the good fortune of being taught by some very talented and enthusiastic French teachers, whose passion for French was contagious and exciting; teachers who helped me appreciate the beauty and richness of the French language, culture and people.
Learning a second language is a lifelong journey. There are many milestones along the way, but like many disciplines, there is never a point at which one has learned all there is to know. Teaching French gives me the opportunity to share my passion for French with my students and it also lets me indulge in a little learning of my own. It is indeed for me, the perfect scenario.
In order to prepare for my career, I completed a five year conjoint program of Bachelor of Arts (French major) and Bachelor of Education degrees (intermediate/high school core French) at Memorial University. One of the most enriching experiences during this time was the term that I spent in St. Pierre and Miquelon. This beautiful, rugged archipelago of France, located just off the south coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, offered a very pure and vibrant introduction to French people of this region and their traditional way of life. Studying at Memorial`s Frecker Institute and living with a kind-hearted family made for an amazing cultural experience that deepened my commitment to my chosen career path.
Upon graduating from university, I immediately began substituting and was fortunate to have been offered a permanent grade six French immersion position in St. John’s. Since my methods courses were in core French, I felt that it was important to engage in formalized instruction on French immersion methodologies and strategies, so I registered for an Additional Qualifications (AQ) Specialist Program at the University of Ottawa. This three-summer program provided me with the opportunity to develop my skills as a primary/elementary French immersion teacher with the added advantage of spending the summers in a French environment. The bilingual richness of the cultural offerings of the nation’s capital was of great interest and tremendous benefit to me as a French Second Language (FSL) teacher.
As an anglophone teaching French, I feel that it is essential to partake in regular professional development opportunities focused on developing my French skills. One of my favourite P.D. programs is the five-day summer session for French teachers at the Francoforum in St. Pierre and Miquelon. This program is rich in cultural and language activities and offers participants a chance to get to know the local people and experience their traditions and way of life. I have also enjoyed participating in conversational French classes at the local Francophone Association (l’Association communautaire francophone de Saint-Jean). These classes are fun and informal and are offered to any individuals who would like an opportunity for practice in a group setting.
Since I began teaching eighteen years ago, I have taught in both French immersion and core French programs and I have worked with students across all levels in the K-12 system. I have also completed a Master of Education program through Memorial University. Presently, I am employed with the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation (CDLI) where I teach core French in an online environment to high school students throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
Under the auspice of the Department of Education, CDLI provides a state of the art model for distance education in which core French students are able to engage in authentic, communicative language learning experiences. The real-time, interactive approaches available through CDLI technologies ensure that FSL students can learn French in a stimulating and rich environment. The French department at CDLI has also organized opportunities for students to travel to various “French milieux” so that they can be immersed in the language and culture. Through CDLI, students who live in rural and remote areas of the province are able to partake in FSL learning experiences that may not have otherwise been available.
Teaching with CDLI has been a very exciting opportunity that has enabled me to learn new and innovative strategies to teach French using state of the art technologies. The collaboration and collegiality of this organization has fostered a very positive and rich work environment.
Since beginning my teaching career in 1991, my experiences have been very diverse and rewarding. While I have taught students in many different grade levels in both face to face and distance environments, the common underlying thread is my love of French and the great pleasure that I experience from working with the wonderful youth of our province. I am grateful to have had so many exciting and fulfilling opportunities within the profession and I am excited about participating in the future of FSL education in Newfoundland and Labrador.