PROVO, Utah (Dec. 2, 2014)—Walking through the doors of Edgemont Elementary School in Provo is like being transported to a primary school in the heart of France. The young students called out a resounding “Bonjour!” to BYU’s French choir, welcoming them enthusiastically to a special Christmas assembly at Provo’s French dual-immersion elementary school.
BYU French professor and department chair Corry Cropper introduced the French choir to the students, explaining that many of the Christmas carols we sing have French origins. The choir performed “Oh! Quel bonheur,” “La cantique des cloches,” “Patapan,” “Petit papa Noël,” “Minuit, chrétiens” and “Douce Nuit, sainte nuit”—all traditional French Christmas carols.
“It was a fantastic experience to sing for the kids at Edgemont Elementary,” said Daniel Rellaford, conductor of BYU’s French choir. “We’ve never had a more excited audience! It was especially exciting because, in a way, we were able to show them that other people speak French and are excited about it.”
He continued, “Some of them came up to me afterward and spoke to me in beautiful French, thanking me for the performance. All in all, it was an experience I won’t forget.” In addition to directing BYU’s French choir, Rellaford studies business and French at BYU and works as a student instructor for the French department.
Many of the university’s foreign language departments are involved with Provo School District’s dual-immersion programs. In addition to French, Provo’s elementary schools offer Mandarin Chinese and Spanish dual-immersion options to students, starting at first grade and continuing to sixth.
“BYU has actively worked to support dual-immersion programs in the state and to train students for teaching dual immersion,” said Cropper. “A number of our former students currently teach dual immersion in Utah and elsewhere, including two recent graduates at Edgemont. The children who are in the dual-immersion program gain fluency quickly and speak fearlessly.”
—Sylvia Cutler, BA English ’17