On Monday May 21 I had the pleasure of introducing my 7th grade French students to my father-in-law, Philippe Daire, who is currently visiting from France.
Philippe was born in Paris in 1934, and was 5 years old when World War II broke out in Europe.
He spent 40 minutes with our class telling the students about his childhood, how his mother had to send him to ‘La France Libre’ (Southwest France) where the German army had not yet claimed control, to live with his grandparents, as Paris fell to the German army in 1940. For more than 5 years of his early childhood, he was seperated from his parents; he barely knew his mother, as she had to remain in Paris to work, while his father, Maurice Daire, a member of the French army, was taken as a prisoner of war and was held for several years in a German work camp in Austria.
Philippe was 11 years old when he saw his father again.
Philippe’s father-in-law, Roger Leduc, was a member of the French Résistance movement, and he spoke to the way that this collection of civilian “soldiers” fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during the Second World War. He told the students how English bombers would fly over the channel and drop military rations by parachute to the Résistance troups hiding deep in the forests of France.
It was a unique and rare experience to be able to hear a firsthand account of life in France during World War II, to learn how his life was affected, starting with what a child would notice the most… a shortage of chocolate, to the more severe and debilitating results of the war such as food & coal rationing, to clothing rationing, as with each year supplies grew more scarce and prices grew higher. Young French men were sent to Germany for STO (service de travail obligatoire) to run the German factories and be their work force … and for men such as Philippe’s father-in-law who decided not to join the STO to instead become become freedom fighters/ aka La Resistance who answered the call of General DeGaulle to fight behind the lines of the German occupied France in the effort to sabotage and slow down their forces.
Philippe shared with the students his emotions, the emotions that he can remember, of feeling utterly hopeless in the face of the German army, to the glimmer of hope that arrived in the form of American ‘flying air-fortresses’ that could be heard flying high above France in 1944 & 1945.
Visite – Philippe Daire
The students prepared questions to ask Philippe at the end of his presentation, ranging from inquiries regarding his personal experience of growing up during the war, to whether or not he had ever met a Nazi. He told of his encounter with a young German soldier in the streets of his village in the La France ‘libre’, one who was barely 18 years old, how through a child’s eyes the man seemed normal and kind, but how the terrifying reality of why he was in France and what he was a part of would haunt him for the rest of his life.
I feel that our students found Philippe’s visit to be enlightening and special, as with each day, month and year that pass our world sees fewer and fewer survivors of World War II.
I hope that they will remember his words in the years to come as they begin to study WW II in more depth in their Upper School and High School history classes.
BCD French Students at county-wide poetry recital competition!
Bonjour à tous!
On Tuesday March 6th, four students from BCD participated in a foreign language poetry recital, along with more than 50 students from schools all over Berkshire County.
Three eighth graders and one seventh grader committed to memorizing a poem in French, and then recited the poem in front of their peers, teachers, and two judges.
There were students from four world language disciplines represented yesterday; French, Spanish, Chinese, and Latin, from beginner level to native-speaker level.
Some of the poems that our students memorized include; ‘Composition Francaise’ recited by Jack B., and ‘Le Bouquet’ recited by Anje C., both by Jacques Prévent, ‘En Arles’ by Paul-Jen Toulot and recited by Sean S., and ‘J’ai Fait Un Bouquet’ by Gilles Vigneault, recited by Halle D.
Students were judged on several criteria including memorization, pronounciation and intonation.
Anje C. took home 1st prize in his level, for a flawless recital of his chosen poem, ‘Le Bouquet.’
I am very proud of the initiative and dedication that all four students they showed in memorizing and reciting their chosen poems!
The poetry assembly was organized and sponsored by B.O.L.T, the Berkshire Organization of Language Teachers, a local organization which “provides a community and quality professional development for world language educators since 1982.”
I am looking forward to another strong BCD performance in 2020, as the competition is held every two years.
By Mary Daire| 2018-03-07T16:17:43+00:00 March 7th, 2018|Categories: Grade 7, Grade 8|Comments Off on BCD French Students at county-wide poetry recital competition!
Gr. 7 French & Spanish classes combining our forces!
Bonjour, hola everyone!
Senor Silva and myself, Madame Daire, wish to share with you a bit of what our 7th grade world language students are up to!
For the past month, the students in each class have been working on their individual ‘voyage’ ‘viaje’ projects in which they each created a slideshow and spoke about where they went, what they did, saw, ate, etc.
Those initial presentations were done in each class, individually.
Today, we brought the two classes together so that the students from each language class could present their trips to each other.
The idea of exposing the students in a full language immersion experience, to hear a presentation in a language that they do not know and are not familiar with, creates an environment where language is celebrated and recognized by both the specific language learners and those that are entirely new to the language.
The students can see the similarities between the two foreign languages, and the English language. Seeing the cognates, the context and expressions used help them to understand the ‘jist’ of what is being said.
The connection between images and the spoken word are also important tools in any language learning experience.
They also have a taste of what it is like to teach their classmates a language!
We will continue our dual presentations which will hopefully start to build excitement for our 9th grade trip to France and Spain in 2020, which is the cherry on top of the Word Language program at Berkshire Country Day School.