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École pour les bambins – with puppets

Jan 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Latest News, News

LANGUAGE TODDLERS: Clockwise, from left, Teacher Mireille Contileslie, Aurelia Coffey, Meghan and Arlo Hughes, Rebecca and Hugo McLean, Corrine Coffey.

LANGUAGE TODDLERS: Clockwise, from centre rear, teacher Mireille Contileslie, Aurelia Coffey, Meghan and Arlo Hughes, Rebecca and Hugo McLean, Corrine Coffey.

IT’S no easy task amusing a group of toddlers for an hour, let alone attempting a French lesson, but Mireille Contileslie starts by introducing them to les marionettes.

She uses the finger puppets in a song, Les Petites Marionettes, and engages the tots in a combination of song, dance and story-telling – all in French.

 The familiar “Head, shoulders, knees and toes (knees and toes)!” is translated into French, as well as “Ring-a-ring-o’-roses”, and though the toddlers are not as eloquent as their teacher, nonetheless they seem entertained.

Ms Contileslie has been teaching a holiday programme to half a dozen children aged one to three. It is a first this year at the Alliance Français School in Wellington, and is an addition to the year-round classes.

The holiday programme is a fun introduction to French, also giving parents a preview before committing to a full term.

One is Arlo, 18 months, who is also enrolled for the first term of school, commencing February 2nd.

Meghan Hughes took son Arlo, 18 months, along because she and her partner want him grow up learning a second language.

“He’s very receptive,” she says. “He’s picking up English words from home and he already knows some Maori words.”

Ms Hughes, 26, has fond memories of an exchange to France when she was younger, but has forgotten most of the vocabulary.

Course co-ordinator Nathalie Buckrell says the school’s general classes (up to year 13) are popular with both French and English families, many of whom return each year.

When they introduced toddler classes to the curriculum two years ago, staff were unsure if there was enough interest, but have found the courses to be successful because young children easily absorb language.

For French-born children, it is a chance to continue learning their native language and culture.

The library at Alliance Français boasts the biggest range of French books, CDs, DVDs and magazines in Wellington. The French Embassy helps fund the purchase of resources for the non-profit organisation.

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is a Whitireia Journalism student. Her interests include travel, food and entertainment, music, and fashion. Sophie hopes to work in magazines. She is not into serious stuff like finance and politics.
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