The ABCs of integration

(Granby) They call Fatmaih or Ayham Mohammad or Maria, Grace-Miidie or Frank, these children 6 to 12 years all share two common points. They are refugees and none spoke French before entering the first reception class created by the school board of Val-des-Cerfs.

The school of the Assumption welcomed with open arms the young 13 – nine Syrians, four from Africa – newly arrived in Granby. Courses began in mid-February. Already, in just over three weeks, these children manage to understand simple instructions.

“It’s very rewarding, says the teacher, Chantal Proulx. It takes a lot of adaptation against, because of the language and the different levels of education. ”

Grinning from ear to ear, one that was a classroom teacher, before applying for the job, said she was delighted to be able to teach these children, who have not always been easy. I must say it had already had the experience of French courses, she gave in small groups for three years.

This time the challenge is daunting. First, the age differences require adaptation. Several students from the same family. And they have not all been educated in their country of origin or in the refugee camp.

The great Ayham, 12, is among those who start from scratch. He learns how the school as it integrates the material.

The visual, invaluable ally

Upon transition of La Voix de l’Est, Tuesday afternoon, the students raised their hands with enthusiasm to pick a fruit or a vegetable plastic. How do you call this? Is it a fruit or a vegetable? What color is it? So many questions to learn the words of the language of Molière.

The visual is important in learning. “It works a lot with images. I have all the time visually. We also have a method of teaching French second language, which is done by modeling, “says the teacher.

This method works much by demonstration. The teacher can show the tools to make, execute movements to understand that we must cut the circular, classify fruits and vegetables and write their names, for example.

Thus, in the classroom, there are pictographs, like a plate to ring the dinner hour, a backpack to illustrate when to make her bag, or a bus to return home.

“It’ll still good, says Ms. Proulx, who invests much of his time to the success of its young. They are able to make requests, like to go to the toilet. ”

The first day, however, was not easy. In response to the instructions, it reaped a look of incomprehension. “I knew in my boarding there that it was a good challenge!”

Fortunately, the interpreter Soumaya St-Pierre was there to help translate from Arabic to French and vice versa. “Quietly, we want to fade that service because we want the students get used to hearing and try,” said the acting director of the school of the Assumption, Julie Guillemette.

She noted that children are more attentive and available when the interpreter is not there.


These thirteen young people follow a schedule. They arrive at the same time as students in regular, dine at the same cafeteria, have the same recess and return home the same story. They have music lessons and a little over periods of physical education, but for themselves English classes, since they are already trying to learn another language.

Both the school staff that students have shown great openness.

“There is a sponsorship system. Each student is sponsored by a class, Ms. Guillemette says proudly. If the student’s level of fifth grade, there is a fifth class sponsoring. When there are plastic art activities, science or physical education class invites student. We have a student who now goes to a kindergarten group to make a DIY Easter. Each class made a card for their student to welcome them. In these classes, there is no interpreter. The student will not understand everything, but at least he will live the experience of a regular classroom. ”

The integration is made naturally in public places. As the boys perform well in soccer, they are very popular in the school yard, evokes the Acting Director, laughing. They even managed to get a real soccer ball with Chantal Proulx, they worship. And they do not hide!

Two other classes
Besides the school of the Assumption High School Upper Town also has its reception class with five students of Congo and Syria. Another class of its kind open to primary school Ave Maria in mid-April to the last child arrived in the Syrian vague.

“This is the first time there is a reception class at the school board of Val-des-Cerfs, says Julie Guillemette, Acting Director of the Assumption School. Usually newcomers are integrated into regular classes, depending on their age. These students then have a francization program. ”

“The two main objectives of the reception class are intensive learning French and all the socio-emotional aspect, depending on what the children experienced in recent months, said the Director of Education of the CSVDC Carl Morissette . This is a transition period. Next year, if the children are ready, it would be the integration into regular classes. ”

With the rapid arrival of ten many Syrian families in Granby, the need was presented. The number of children would have complicated integration he believes, while the structure of the reception classes work well.

Primary schools of the Assumption, Ave Maria, and St. Bernard High School Upper Town are in the area, plural schools, that is to say they regularly welcome newcomers.

“According to information we have, the two primary host classes will be sufficient for the needs that were announced we concluded Mr. Morissette. If ever there were additional needs, we will see which school to move. “This is a temporary measure since newcomers during the next school year, will be integrated into regular classes.

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