Last September 2020, the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI) launched a project with funding from Canadian Heritage, “Learning through community involvement in the service of future teachers in French-language minority schools (EFMM) and French as a second language (FSL).” Its goal is to provide educational support for FSL classes, particularly online classes, in public schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
OLBI partnered with the Community Engagement team (Michaëlle Jean Centre for Global and Community Engagement) to match its volunteer students with FSL teachers and professional associations specifically through the Community Service Learning (CSL) program. The latter enables students to contribute 30 hours of community involvement volunteer work as part of their course. During the fall 2020, CSL students contributed over 500 hours of online tutoring for school-age children across Canada to help them with FSL homework.
Marie-Josée Hamel, OLBI professor for the DLS 3501 Technologies éducationnelles en didactique des langues secondes course, seized this opportunity for her students, future FSL teachers: "The 23 students in my DLS 3501 course are currently tutoring online for CPF via the CSL program. This is an extraordinary opportunity for them to develop FLS distance teaching skills.” A number of FLS students, namely from professor Laura Ambrosio’s classes, are also involved in this worthwhile initiative.
Theresa Mary Ann Paplinskie, a student, volunteered both during the fall and this winter term, “After graduation, I wish to continue volunteering because I enjoyed this experience so much.” Nicole Redford, Network Manager at Canadian Parents for French, also describes a positive experience working with CSL students, “Our Virtual French Tutoring program could not operate without the dedicated uOttawa student volunteers. These students are helping us redefine the meaning of community service as they work with students across Canada breaking down physical barriers through virtual lessons. (They) help us serve more students in more provinces and territories with their willingness to serve any of our participants no matter the time zone.”
So far, the Community Engagement team has contacted over 200 schools across Canada about how uOttawa FSL students can support individualized homework tutoring needs and FSL teachers’ needs. For more information on this initiative, please contact OLBI Professor Laura Ambrosio or Alexandra Baril, Manager, Community Engagement, for the CSL program.