Smiles, looks, words supported by gestures or illustrations… Teachers know very well that welcoming a student who does not speak French into their class – an “allophone”, in the school jargon – takes a lot of , at least the first few days, by ” non-verbal communication “.
To arouse the attention of Yurii, 15, who is returning to Paul-Valéry high school this Wednesday, March 15, in the 12and district of Paris, Cédric Maffre, the referent teacher of the Teaching Unit dedicated to newly arrived allophone pupils (a UPE2A, according to the acronym in force), offers himself a “detour” by another lever: music.
He had planned to have his class listen to the singer Clara Luciani; first of all, it’s rap in Russian that resonates in the room on the third floor of the school, on the initiative of Yurii himself who, all smiles, turned the volume up all the way on his smartphone.
Reinforced French teaching
A fortnight ago, the Ukrainian teenager was attending school in kyiv, in “ninth class” ; the equivalent of a level straddling the third and second. Here he is now integrated into the dozen students – Ukrainians, therefore, but also Bangladeshi, Algerian, Nigerian or even Chinese – that this system counts on a reinforced teaching of French, at the rate of 18 hours a week, before sending the students to a regular class,” explains Maffre. “Everyone does it at their own pace, gradually, and only when they feel ready.. »
While waiting to be, Yurii is making her mark, surrounded by Kataryna, who also arrived from Ukraine but in the fall, and Laura, who came from Moldavia. Between the three Russian-speaking teenagers, tongues loosen. While the bulk of the class is working on an excerpt from The Princess of Cleves, the trio comments on some video clips. “Try to speak in French”, their teacher repeats to them. This is the rule in UPE2A. But she suffers from “a few exceptions” he concedes aside, for this first day that Yurii spends in high school.
Fleeing the war in Ukraine, to date nearly 790 children and adolescents have already been educated on French soil, according to the latest figures communicated by the Ministry of Education. The cohort is ” reasonable “, said Jean-Michel Blanquer, during a trip, on March 15, to an establishment of the Créteil academy. Reported as a total of 12.4 million pupils (including 68,000 allophone pupils, all origins combined), this figure does not say much. But he will “grow in the next few days”, warned the Minister. While the government is still anticipating the possible arrival of 50,000 to 100,000 refugees, mainly women and children, the school actors are getting ready to go.