French Growth in the summer? Here’s How

Making the decision to send your child to French camp is a big one. Your child is in French immersion school all year, do they really need to spend precious summer weeks in French? 

The real question is WHY NOT?

The key is to find a French camp that is both fun and educational, so that your child improves their French skills without even realizing it! This is exactly why Camp Tournesol was created. We have been delivering French camps to tens of thousands of campers since 2001, most of whom can’t wait to return each and every summer!

Like many parents, you may be asking : “How do you get the children to actually speak French at camp?!” We’re so glad you asked; this is our area of expertise!

In short:

  • We incorporate French in all our daily activities and are very intentional on HOW we include it in our games. We do this with a large focus on experiential learning, meaning that the children improve, practice and learn French by DOING hands on activities.
  • We enrich their vocabulary by exposing them to activities that they will not typically experience in class, thereby learning new French vocabulary and new ways to use the language they already know.
  • We are recognized experts in this field, even providing our resources and know-how to school boards and teachers.

Not convinced? Let’s break it down further, step by step:

1. Fun comes first

It’s summer camp after all! Our mission is to make French learning FUN, which means campers improve their oral communication and comprehension skills without even realizing it. How do we do this? All of our awesome activities are run in French, which means that campers are exposed to the language throughout the day. 

For instance, when it’s time to make one of our cool crafts, instructions are given in French and campers are encouraged to ask “Peux-tu me passer les ciseaux s’il te plait?” instead of “Can you please pass me the scissors?”. Or when we’re playing sports outside, French development is promoted, as active listening skills are needed to understand the game. Campers develop their vocabulary specific to the human body (for example, no tagging people above the shoulders or below the hips), sports, and sport equipment. We make sure that each module provides the perfect blend of fun and French learning.

2. ‘Trial and error’ is the name of the game

Our main focus is on creating a fun and welcoming atmosphere where campers feel safe and comfortable expressing themselves in French, without worrying about having perfect pronunciation or vocabulary. We believe that children learn best through trial and error and this gives them a chance to take risks speaking French. The result? A new-found confidence in speaking the language naturally, beyond the classroom setting. We often find our campers feeling self-assured enough to speak French to their peers and parents by the end of the session!

3. Counselors are key

We know that without the perfect staff, camp just wouldn’t be the same.

That’s why we make sure that our fabulous counselors are dedicated, enthusiastic, and passionate about French. All counselors and team leaders speak French fluently, and many of them are studying French or pedagogy at university, or are already French teachers!

Counselors speak French all day, to campers and to each other, which creates a truly immersive experience. Plus, campers look up to their counselors as role models and feel inspired to speak French like they do!

4. Carefully crafted 

Our activities are carefully designed with the Ontario French Immersion and Francophone curriculums in mind. We work with our incredible curriculum director, Annie Bellemare, who has worked with the French school board for several years. We also have the pleasure of consulting with various trusted French teachers when planning our day camps, which helps us develop the educational component based on real-word expertise

Here’s a secret: we are total nerds when it comes to studying language acquisition! This is why we consult the research when designing the structure of our camps. For instance, our “creativity club” module encourages camper groups to create a song or skit in French (with costumes, choreography, and all!). This draws on Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy of thinking, which explains that language skills are better solidified when used to create something new. 

5. Reinforce. Reinforce. Reinforce!

Speaking of research, we also know that repetition of vocabulary is the cornerstone for developing a strong language base, as discovered by Stuart Wagg. This is why we are so keen on reinforcement.

Our special language module was created for this reason; it consolidates what the campers have learned through different games where expression and interaction go hand in hand. One such game is “Picture Telephone” where the first player describes a hidden image to the second person, who describes what he heard to the next person, and so on until the last person makes the final sketch, and the original photo is revealed! During the comparison between what was drawn and the original picture, the counselors review the vocabulary used and learned during the activity. This module is dedicated to reinforcing what the campers have learned to assure that it stays with them in their daily use of French.

A slightly different type of reinforcement is also central to our camps… we’re talking about positive reinforcement! Our campers LOVE our badge system, which you can read about here. When counselors take notice of a camper’s effort in using French throughout the day, they get rewarded with a badge! This keeps them motivated and excited about speaking French.

Like what you hear?

We would love for you to come see these tried-and-true features of our camps in action! We accept campers ages 4-12 and run programs for children of all French levels. Register now and give your child a summer of fun in French!

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