Child learning languages on chalkboardThirty international language instructors with the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) will take part in a different kind of lesson on Thursday morning, May 2, as they begin the day at Queen’s Park in the company of students, teachers, parents and school board trustees.

The group is marking the day as one that celebrates TCDSB’s International Languages (IL) program and students will have the opportunity to learn more about the connection between their cherished language-learning program and the government that sets the curriculum they follow every day.

 “We are delighted to participate in this wonderful excursion,” said Maria Chaves, an instructor of Portuguese in the IL program at St Francis of Assisi Catholic School; she is also a member of CUPE 3155, which represents instructors in TCDSB schools.

“We are incredibly proud of our students and the way they embrace international language learning. We believe MPPs will be amazed at the children’s language facility, knowledge and fluency, and we hope that it will increase awareness and appreciation among our elected representatives for the wonderful treasure we have in TCDSB schools.”

During their time at Queen’s Park, Grade 5 to 8 students will learn about the workings of provincial government as part of their social studies. They will attend Question Period, tour the legislative building, and meet their Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs). Parents, trustees and instructors will also have the opportunity to share information about the IL program at TCDSB and answer any questions that MPPs might have about the value the IL program brings to students, schools and communities.

“This is a day of celebration, dignity and pride for TCDSB – as well as learning,” said TCDSB trustee and board chair Maria Rizzo, whose support and initiative made the day happen.

The international language instructors are taking a day of unpaid leave to participate in the day at Queen’s Park.

“We are passionate ambassadors for the IL program,” said Chaves. “This is a great day for our students, as well as for those of us who believe so strongly in the benefits of integrating international language learning into a child’s school day. Nothing can replace it.”

TCDSB employs 100 instructors in its IL program, which has been running for more than 40 years in the board’s schools. The program is staffed by dedicated native speakers, who deliver language learning to elementary students. In 44 of the board’s elementary schools, children from kindergarten to Grade 8 learn an international language – Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Filipino, Mandarin, Polish, or Ukrainian – as part of their instructional day. Students also learn geography, science, art, history, music and math in languages other than English and French, enhancing the curricula instruction.