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The pursuit of languages brings joy, rewards

Recognizing recent activities and accolades across the campus and beyond.
Concours d’art oratoire

Two Upper School students worked diligently with Sophia Berezowsky, chair of the modern and classical languages department, to compete in the annual Concours d’art oratoire, Canada’s largest annual French public speaking competition. They took part in the local contest on March 4 at Branksome Hall.

Tarun Basra, Year 11, represented the core French program with a speech entitled La Perseverance, about the determination and hard work required to overcome a skiing injury in order to compete again.

Year 9 student Charles Paterson from the enriched French program delivered a speech called Voyager C’est Apprendre, discussing the challenges of embracing a new culture. He earned a gold medal in his category and will compete in the provincial competition on May 4 at Glendon College in Toronto.

“The competition is a great way of promoting the French language in the Canadian context,” says Berezowsky. “Since it’s an extracurricular event, both boys spent a lot of time writing and editing their speeches, and working with me on pronunciation, intonation and delivery techniques. It’s a real commitment on their part and I’m proud of their work.”

French Language Exchange

UCC has established a new partnership with Ėcole Ermitage in Maison Lafitte, France that is providing two excellent exchange opportunities. In fact, the College recently welcomed French students in reciprocation for their hospitality earlier in the school year.

The first opportunity is a five-week, home-stay language and culture exchange in the fall for two Year 7 and two Year 8 enriched French students with a reciprocal visit in the spring by their French counterparts. UCC students attend full days of school and enjoy exposure to cultural events and landmarks in their spare time. They are billeted with French families from the Ermitage community.

The second is a March Break reciprocal culture and language exchange for up to 15 students in Year 8, led by UCC French faculty. Their French peers visit UCC during their own spring break in April. This exchange is open to French speakers at all levels.

Says the Prep’s French Subject Learning Leader Peter Labancz, “These exchanges reinvigorate and motivate the students in the classroom and they come back excited about hosting their French counterparts. It’s been a whirlwind while the French students are here. We’ve taken them to Norval, to Niagara Falls and for a city walk through downtown Toronto. The host parents have been amazing, too. They complement our efforts and add so much to the program.”

Labancz says the exchanges provide what the College’s mission statement promises: “a transformational experience. We aim to make a long-lasting impression through immersion in language and culture.”

World Languages Week and La Semaine Francophone 

At the Upper School, World Languages Week has been a tradition for more than a decade, honouring the diversity of languages spoken at the College. 

This year’s events went beyond the week of April 15, with a mini-Olympics the preceding week and foods of the world served in the dining hall the following week. Maria Gauthier, a languages teacher, organized the events in collaboration with Jack Silverson and Stamatis Zezos, both in Year 12. Students had many opportunities to participate through games and trivia, singalongs and karaoke, and wearing cultural dress and national colours.  

The week kicked off with a languages assembly that featured guest speaker Professor Ai Taniguchi from the University of Toronto Mississauga. She discussed languages as a reflection of lived experiences, making them all important and valid. 

At the Prep, La Semaine Francophone had a roster of enriching activities, including French movies during lunch, a Scattergories competition and an assembly with a drumming and dance performance by Fana Soro, a performer from the Ivory Coast.
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