CEWIL Canada awards John Abbott College for Innovative French Language Learning Initiative
Co-operative Education and Work-Integration Learning Canada (CEWIL Canada) has awarded John Abbott College with a grant for an innovative French language learning initiative. The grant was specifically allocated to support an immersive French language learning project initiated by French Professor, Maria Popica.
The funds awarded went towards the participating students’ living expenses, allowing them to focus their energies on the requirements of the program. The project aimed to prepare activities on the ground and provide students, enrolled in French as a second language, with an authentic and experiential employment experience in the French community of Montreal.
Notably, the project had the active collaboration of two prominent institutions: Lester B. Pearson School Board (six primary schools, immersion program in French) and the CIUSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal (Sainte-Anne Hospital and Centre d’hébergement Denis-Benjamin-Viger). The students were entrusted to prepare their curriculum vitae and cover letters, apply and partake in the interview process with the institutions of their choice. Once hired, the students participated in various activities and workshops. They assisted their supervisors and worked directly with other students and patients. The involvement of JAC students was greatly appreciated by the institutions, contributing significantly amid the current staff shortages.
The project had a significant impact on students’ personal and professional development. They were taught to take responsibility for their learning, prepare and plan activities and act responsibly. Moreover, the program included a research project to measure the impact of the experience on factors such as motivation for learning French as a second language and attitudes towards the French community. The results indicated an improvement across all areas examined.
The student feedback, after completing the program, was overwhelmingly positive. They highlighted the practical application of their French language skills, improved confidence, and a newfound appreciation for community engagement. Some students even expressed a shift in their career aspirations, considering roles in teaching or healthcare.
The success of this initiative showcases the power of work-integrated learning to enhance language skills, build confidence and contribute meaningfully to the community.