Ann Chiasson is a certified AIM teacher, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Ann delivers AIM workshops, inspiring and supporting new and experienced teachers who wish to use AIM in their French immersion program!
Another summer has gone and a new school year has begun. Once again, I am faced with a group of 20 adorable (most of the time) 4 and 5 years olds who have no knowledge of French. As I observed them on the first day of class, I couldn’t help wondering what I had gotten myself into. The blank stares, the requests for me to speak in English, the repeated exclamations that they do not understand a word I am saying, made me question my choice of teaching full-day French immersion kindergarten for the umpteenth time. I mean seriously! Am I nuts, some kind of masochist or a sucker for punishment? And then I sat down to do my first AIM lesson and as I enthusiastically gestured “Bonjour, tout le monde, tout le monde dit bonjour”, the magic began. Suddenly, one little voice joined in, and then another, and another, and another until all 20 little unilingual creatures were speaking chorally with me in French. And this was happening on the first day of school! This helped me remember that though the beginning of the school year is challenging in the immersion classroom, it is also very rewarding. With AIM, the students begin producing language on day 1 and the look on their faces when I gesture (and they speak) “très très bien, tout le monde”, is priceless. It is worth the sweat, the effort and the energy it takes because it allows students to be successful in their second language from the very start. I would be lying if I were to say that spending a full day in French with kindergarten students is an easy task. It isn’t easy. But it is doable. By AIMifying regular classroom routines, by using AIM strategies such as entry routines, rhythm, singing, dancing, total questions and by leading students with gesture, the immersion class quickly develops its fluency, but most importantly, the immersion students learn to love French. So no matter how challenging it gets in the immersion classroom, I will not give up because I know that the AIM will continue to work its magic and my students will reap the rewards..en français!!