Are Bon Voyage Teachers Certified? Why is this important?
- All Bon Voyage teachers are certified teachers with endorsements in the languages they teach. In addition, our director is a National Board Certified Teacher. This is important because unlike some other disciplines, language teaching is extremely specialized and requires a tremendous amount of knowledge on how our brain functions.
Are your teachers native speakers?
- Most of our teachers are native speakers of the languages they teach. Some are bilingual native speakers, meaning they speak two languages as a native language. A few of our teachers are not native speakers but have a native level proficiency in the language.
Is Bon Voyage Accredited or A-G Approved?
- Not yet. Many schools that have been in operation for decades are not accredited. Accreditation is not required for schools in the United States and many public schools are not accredited. Once in operation for 2 years, schools can apply for accreditation. Bon Voyage will be in operation for two years in September 2019 and we DO plan to become accredited through AdvanceEd starting next fall. We cannot apply for A-G certification until January 2019 and plan to do so as soon as we are able.
Do you follow a standards-based curriculum?
- The American Council of Teachers of Foreign Language (ACTFL) sets the standards for language courses in the United States. In order for students to receive high school language credit, language courses must meet these standards. Our courses meet all the ACTFL standards as well as all the European language standards which, in general, are more rigorous than the American standards. We focus on the core competencies – receptive in the first two years – listening and reading, and expressive in following years- speaking and writing.
Do you offer high school credit?
- Yes, our classes meet all the standards for issuing high school credit. In order to receive credit for the class, students must complete one full year of study and all coursework. Students who do not complete the coursework or who do not spend one full school year in our courses will not receive credit. Unfortunately, we cannot issue credit if a student enters in second semester after studying language at another school.
How do your courses line up with “typical” language courses offered in the public school for high school credit?
- The typical rule of thumb for credit is 60 hours per semester or 120 hours per school year. That equals 5 hours per week of language study. Students who take our one day a week classes will obviously progress at a slower pace than those who are in our multi day per week classes, however, all of our classes meet the 120 per year course hour requirement.
- Students who are enrolled in the one day per week courses have approximately 4 hours of additional coursework per week that is independent study. Students must complete all of the coursework and attend the live sessions for one full school year (or 30 weeks) in order to receive credit from our school.
What is Fluency?
- Fluency is the speed at which the brain processes language and then produces language. Madame Porter, our director, defines two types of fluency- receptive and expressive. Receptive fluency is defined as the process by which we hear language and process it in the brain for understanding. Expressive fluency is defined as the process by which the brain can process language for understanding and then spontaneously produce language. Fluency does not equal accuracy. Fluency is the ability to process language with ease and fluidity.
Why can’t we translate?
- Our method mimics the process by which we learn our first languages. Translation is a very different skill in the brain than second language acquisition. When students translate it blocks fluency and makes them rely on their native languages to speak the new language.
- Our method focuses on fluency and communication. Translation methods make the student focus on accuracy, we want our students to communicate confidently without fear of making mistakes, because even native speakers make mistakes sometimes!
- Translation makes students hyper-focus on every word. In reality, even in our native languages we only hear between 17 and 25% of the words being spoken in a conversation. The goal is to understand the global meaning and not focus on every word. The brain will process language much quicker when the focus is on communication and not being accurate with every single word being spoken.
- Our goal is using language to create relationships and human connection using authentic language in order to understand the people and cultures who speak the language the student is learning.
- It can be frustrating sometimes, and translation gives students that instant gratification of knowing what is being said, but the truth is, that we must exercise our pre-frontal cortex in order to make the language stick. Language will not be properly acquired if a translation method is used.
If we are not allowed to translate, how do we help our students with coursework?
- The coursework is designed so that the students should not need parent help. That being said, we realize that even our high school students may need a little extra help from parents. Translation actually “undoes” our method. Therefore, we ask that parents do not use a translator for assignments, even if it is just so the parent understands. We ask that the student go back, look through notes from the live lessons, and think through the assignment. If they are still struggling, then the teacher is available to help and answer questions.
- If the parent speaks French, we ask that he or she not give the answers to the students but again guide the students in doing the coursework themselves. It is very important that students learn to process the language in their brains on their own. The teacher is always available to help if needed.
Do you ever use English in class?
- Yes, but not to translate. In the first two years of study, we use English to explain grammar concepts, cultural practices, and give instructions for activities. We are in the target language about 70% of the time. Once students enter the third year of study, the class is 90-100% in the target language.
My student is in 2nd year, why can’t he/she speak yet?
- Language acquisition takes time. Lots of time. Think about how small children learn language, they spend at least 3 years listening and imitating. In the first two years of study, we focus on receptive language. A person needs at least 300 hours of just listening to the language before they can speak. This is why immersion works so quickly, because the student is surrounded by the language, constantly hearing it. Even in our own native languages, we can understand more than we can say. In addition, when students learn language outside of a total immersion experience, and they are not using the language regularly, they may not be able to produce language for several years. The idea that a person can produce spontaneous language regularly in a short amount of time is not at all supported by the science of second language acquisition, and it is a complete myth. In fact, in a person’s native language, it takes 15 to 20 years to speak at 100%, and for some, even longer and that is why we study our native languages in school as well. Because language is ever evolving, even native speakers are constantly learning and acquiring new language. The process never stops!
Do we need to purchase the textbook or any other materials?
- We provide all the materials you will need to follow the class. We prepay copyright licenses and technology fees for every student at the beginning of each semester so that our students can have access to the materials and technology we use.
- We use a curriculum with a specific scope and sequence, but we do not always follow the textbook from cover to cover. Our teachers supplement with a lot of authentic materials and there may be times when we skip over certain activities. Our focus is on student learning and confidence, not getting through a textbook or packet. In most cases, it is very rare for even public school teachers to get through an entire textbook in a school year. We do cover what needs to be covered to meet the standards.
Is it better to take the live classes or Independent Study?
- While we offer independent study courses, we do not recommend them. Our courses are highly interactive. Students taking independent study, even though they are watching the pre-recorded videos from the live classes, are missing the critical human connection piece that is essential for studying language. In addition, students who follow an independent study track must be very disciplined in working through the course materials. We find that many of our independent study students fall behind very quickly. We have several schedule options for our live courses and we really recommend that you choose a live course over an independent study course if you are able.
My student has already been studying French from another program, how do I know which level in which to place my student?
- If the student has been learning from a traditional translation-based method in a regular school, then the student would typically be placed one semester behind his or her current level. The reason for this is that translation methods tend to move faster than our method, but the concepts are not retained in the brain, so we usually end up having to do a lot of review with those students when they come into our program. If you would like to request a scope and sequence of each level, we would be happy to provide that to you, so you can use it as a guide for placement. We would also be happy to meet with you and your student to help determine placement.
We have been doing Rosetta Stone/Duolingo/Mango (or something similar), how do you place students who come from self-study programs such as these?
- Unfortunately, we do not consider these programs to be valid second language acquisition programs for progression. They do not meet standards set forth by ACTFL nor do they support best practices for second language acquisition. We therefore will place students who have been studying in these types of programs in a first-year class unless they can demonstrate a higher level of proficiency.
We are native speakers in our home – do you have classes for native speakers?
- Yes, but at this time only for French. We offer courses for students who speak French in the home or who were previously in immersion programs. We use the French education system’s curriculum from Hachette and these classes are taught by native speakers from France.
What if my student is absent from the live class? What if my student wants to review the lesson later?
- All of our course videos are recorded and posted in our online classroom so students can access them later. Students will have access to the videos as long as they are in the course and are granted access to them on YouTube later after the course has finished.
- While we understand that life happens and absences are sometimes inevitable, we ask that students are not absent from the live class because of the interaction necessary for learning a language. If your student is going to be absent for any reason, we ask that you let the teacher know ahead of time. Students who are absent 3 times from a live class without letting a teacher know, will be removed from the live classes.
Why is the enrollment system asking me to create a "membership" for $45 before I can enroll?
There is a $45 registration fee on all new enrollments. Our booking system calls this a “membership.” The registration fee holds your spot in a class and it is non-refundable. If you are a charter school family you must also pay this fee. If there is a hardship with paying this fee and you are a charter school family, please contact us and we will work with you.
You will not have to pay this fee again as a current student unless you do not enroll for the next semester during the “current student enrollment period.” The “current student enrollment period” runs for three weeks before we open up enrollment to new students. If you are a current student and you enroll during this period, but would like to change your enrollment or add a class, the system will recognize you as a “member” and will not prompt you to pay this fee. If you are a current student and do not enroll in the next semester by the end of the “current student enrollment period” you will have to re-enroll as a new student and you will have to pay the fee again.
What is your withdrawal and refund policy
- We do not allow withdrawal with a refund past one week before the semester begins. The reason for this is that we prepay all of our licensing and technology fees from outside vendors for EACH student for the semester. In addition, we often have waiting lists for our courses and it is hard for students to come in after the start of the semester so when a student withdraws, it takes the place of a student who could have come in on the waiting list.
- We have a strict “no-refund” policy. Our policies and procedures are in place to protect our school, our teachers, our methods, and our materials which is necessary in order for us to operate. This applies to charter school funds as well.
- We ask that before you enroll, you make the commitment to remain in the course for the entire semester and only withdraw at the end of the semester. If you are using charter funds, please be certain that you will remain for the entire semester.
- The same applies for private lessons and tutoring.