About Us

  • AIM Creator

  • wendy-photo

  • Wendy Maxwell

    AIM Creator

    Wendy Maxwell is an award-winning teacher who has transformed second language instruction, both in Canada and internationally. Wendy is the program creator and lead author of AIM Language Learning’s French and English programs and the first two levels of our new Spanish program, iJðvenes en acciðn!

    Wendy is the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence (1999) and the H.H. Stern Award for Innovation in Second Languages (2004). She has made many appearances on CBC, Radio-Canada, Citytv and CTV. Her program has been written up in the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen, the Toronto Star and various international journals. Wendy has delivered keynote addresses in Paris, Tokyo and The Hague.

  • How AIM Began

    For the first four years of my teaching career, I worked in a couple of inner city schools as a French immersion teacher in Toronto. I went into teaching, loving the French language and inspired to help my students find the same. I found these years extremely difficult. I was not an effective teacher – I struggled with classroom management and did not pass the probationary period. For several months I was under review by the Superintendent and did not know whether I would keep my job. I would go home at the end of the day and cry – not sure that I would continue on the teaching path that I had intended to follow since I was very young. During my fourth year, things started to change – my skills slowly began to develop and I was feeling more confident as a teacher!

    In 1989, I moved to an independent school to teach core French – 30 to 40 minutes a day per class. Having been in an immersion environment, where French is commonly understood and spoken by students, I was surprised to see that after six years of French instruction, the students at my new school could not speak, read or write at all in the second language. Although I loved this school – the students were wonderful, the parents were supportive and the administration created a positive learning environment – throughout my first year there, I became increasingly frustrated with my inability to create a target-language only environment.

    It seemed to me that the vocabulary found in the school’s thematic programs were not providing me with the words that the students needed to know. I began to create a list of the most frequently used words and expressions that I remembered my immersion students used. I also documented interactions with my current students – in English – to determine what words they needed in order to communicate with me. This list became the ‘Pared-Down Language’ (PDL), eventually something I verified through research studies.

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