The Pathfinder School: Traverse City Community School

Pathfinder French Program

At the Pathfinder School, all students study French!  

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages defines several levels of intensity of foreign language programs in elementary schools:

  • FLEX (Foreign Language Experience)—one language is taught 1-2 times per week, at least 30 minutes at a time, for at least two years. Some theme-based proficiency is expected, but fluency is not an objective.
    • Sequential FLEX—a systematic development of language skills and cultural awareness.
  • FLES(Foreign Language in Elementary Schools)—one language is taught 3-5 times per week, at least 30 minutes at a time, for at least two years, with a systematic development of language skills and cultural awareness. Good theme-based fluency is expected.
  • Immersion—some or all curriculum subjects are taught in the target language; levels of immersion programs vary, from partial to total. Some fluency is a goal.

Because the Pathfinder students’ overall daily schedule is so full, our elementary French program is FLEX, and our middle school program is Sequential FLEX.

The Pathfinder Early Childhood program (preschool through 2ndgrade) is entirely aural and oral; it provides students with some basic theme-based vocabulary and conversational skills, as well as an awareness of, and appreciation for, the French language and culture. (PS and K have French class 1 or 2 times a week for 20 minutes [Tuesday afternoons and Wednesday mornings]; 1stgrade has French twice a week for 30 minutes each class; 2ndgrade twice a week for 40 minutes each class.)

The Pathfinder Intermediate program (grades 3–4, who have French class 2 times a week for 40 minutes each class) is designed to provide students with some increased basic vocabulary and conversational skills, as well as further awareness of French language and culture. The lessons begin to accumulate, each year reinforcing and developing previous lessons; introducing new vocabulary themes; beginning to read and write in French; and discussing French spelling and grammar.

The Pathfinder Middle School program (for grades 5–7, who have French class 2 times a week for 40 minutes each class, and grade 8, who have French 3 times a week for 40 minutes each class) is considered a Sequential FLEX program. It grows more academic, with more accumulation of vocabulary expected, more in-depth discussions of French vocabulary and grammar, and more reading and writing. Although the program is not designed to be the equivalent of high school French I, many of our middle school students go directly to French II in high school.

Adjustments are always made to accommodate students who transfer into the Pathfinder School from other schools and may not have studied French. New students almost always feel comfortable and successful in their French classes after a very short time.

Pathfinder students invariably excel in foreign language study after they leave here, no matter how many years they have been here, which school they attend, or which language they study!

For more information about preschool through 4th grade French, contact Madame Karen McCarthy at kmccarthy@thepathfinderschool.org. For more information about 5th – 8th grade French, contact Madame Claudine Petzold at cpetzold@thepathfinderschool.org