Gina Walsh

My name is Gina Walsh and I am from Marystown, Newfoundland. Though French Immersion was an option for me my parents, when I was entering Kindergarten, opted to put me in the English stream. My parents regretted not putting me in French Immersion but promised that if I wanted to learn French later they would provide every opportunity there was available - and they did. I began learning French in Grade Four though the Core French program. I still remember reading Le Journal des Jeunes and watching Telefrancais to this day, and since then I have been hooked on French. Rather than giving up on French after Grade nine when French became optional, I kept with it and completed the French courses that were available in senior high - French 2200, 3200, and 3201. My French teacher was always telling me that she thought I would be successful with French and that I should complete courses in this subject at the university. However, in my first semester at Memorial University, French was the one course I did not take. I quickly realized how much I missed learning the language that I was so hooked on in high school. In my second semester, you guessed it, French courses were on my schedule and I was heading in the direction my high school French teacher has suggested.

I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be a teacher at this point, but I knew that French was the subject I wanted to pursue. I came from a family of teachers - my father, aunts, uncles and cousins were teachers. I worked my way through many French courses and I found many opportunities to learn French from the Department of French and Spanish. My French studies took me to St. Pierre et Miquelon for the three-month long Frecker Program. There I completed five French courses. I lived with a French family and was completely immersed in the French language and culture. I spent three months in Nice, France where I attended L’Université de Nice and completed five courses towards my Bachelors degree. I spent another five weeks at L’Univeristé Sainte-Anne studying their immersion program. French also enhanced my employment opportunities. I worked with a French Newspaper in Pointe de l’Église, Le Courrier de La Nouvelle Ecosse, for six weeks as part of the program Jeunesse Canada au Travail. As well, because of French I worked with the Federal Government, in a bilingual setting, during the last three years of my university studies.

During this time I gained a deeper appreciation for French, not only as a language, but also as a culture and an opportunity - an opportunity that allowed me to travel and see places I may never have seen, to learn about and explore places and things I never knew existed, and to see the world from the perspective of the Francophone people. It is experiences like those that made me realize the value of my French studies and I am grateful to the French Department at Memorial for allowing me to feel that passion of studying there. I have had many positive experiences because of French and now I feel the need to share my knowledge and experience with others. As a teacher I am able to share this.

I finished my Bachelor of Arts with major in French and English in December 2006 and at the same time submitted my application for the Bachelor of Education Primary Elementary Fast-Track program at Memorial University. In April 2007 I received my acceptance letter from the Faculty of Education and less than a month later I began the program.

The Education program provides the building blocks necessary to stand on your own as a teacher and it has, as part of their program, courses designed especially for future second language teachers. That is an added bonus. The combination of courses, observation days, and a semester long internship helps people be prepared pedagogically as well as practically. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to complete my internship in both Intensive Core French and French Immersion. This gave me two different perspectives on French Education in action. I have completed formal Intensive Core French training from the Eastern School District and I believe that, as second language educators, we must be aware of the current trends and issues that impact French education.

I graduated with my degree in Bachelor of Education in October 2008 and am currently a substitute teacher with the Eastern School District in the Avalon region. I thoroughly enjoy the myriad of different experiences I get each day I go into a different classroom, different school or even just a different day. Although I do not hold a permanent teaching position, I know that I am a competent teacher, and with the knowledge and skills I acquired at Memorial University I can execute a well-developed lesson plan in an effective and efficient manner.

I enjoyed every facet of the French program at Memorial University and because of the benefits French studies have provided me with, I invite you to register at Memorial’s Faculty of Education.