Faced with the challenge of hiring bilingual staff, Actionmarguerite has launched a pilot project to teach French to employees at work.
Louise Pinel, Food Services Supervisor at Actionmarguerite St. Vital, explains : “Not all employees have time to go to school to learn French. What’s more, what they learn at school doesn’t always relate to what they do at work. So, I suggested that we give French classes right at the residence.”
In early spring, Agnès Champagne, French Language Services and Staff Development Coordinator, began going to Actionmarguerite St. Vital every Thursday to teach 20-minute French classes. “I start with basic concepts, like introductions, the weather… vocabulary that they can use to interact with the residents and serve them in French.”
After class, Louise Pinel continues to work with employees on sentences they have just learned. “What’s great is that everything they learn is related to what they do every day.”
Employees have shown a great deal of interest regardless their levels and backgrounds. “On class days, they have to work more quickly to finish their work on time. But I’ve never heard any complaints. They like the relaxed setting, and how useful what they are learning is.” It is also more convenient for them since they don’t have to take evening lessons after work.
When the opportunity arose, cook Gerald Boily jumped at it. “I’ve been working at Actionmarguerite for eight years. I had never taken any French classes before and now, the class was available, and at my workplace! At first I lacked self-confidence. Now, I’m much more sure of myself. When we start working on pronunciation, we’re a lot less hesitant.”
For now, Louise Pinel is crossing her fingers that the program can continue. “The more classes we give, the more staff will be able to serve residents in French.”