Sophomore Gabe Davis volunteers to teach French to children
February 27, 2018
Combining her love of the French language and desire to help others, sophomore Gabe Davis’ uses her passions to teach children, ages five to 12, French, at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) once a week.
As a French III student, Davis was inspired to tutor children in French and proposed her idea to Jessica Bauer, the Club Supervisor at the (JCC).
“If you ask around in your community, there’s always a place you can find that will appreciate your help, while also allowing you to practice something you’re interested in,” Davis said.
Bauer thought it was a great idea to expose 20 students at the JCC to this new activity.
“We are always trying to come up with new ways to keep the kids engaged, and this is one I never thought of before,” Bauer said. “Kids are sponges, and they can pick up new languages so well.”
Davis teaches French at the JCC once a week and uses her past experience working with elementary school kids to aid her in this new teaching capacity.
“I previously worked with children this age at the Parkway Early Childhood Center, teaching in the Safety Town summer program, and I liked that atmosphere,” Davis said. “I wanted to teach French to kids because it’s something I wish I had the opportunity to do as a child, and it’s so much easier to learn a language when you’re in elementary school.”
The kids were all attentive and curious when Davis began her French tutoring. A lot of them asked her to translate random words and phrases they liked.
“There’s one girl that won’t stop asking me to translate everything she wants to say in French,” Davis said. “She’ll take notes in messy five-year-old handwriting.”
Davis believes the best way to teach the children is by letting them learn words and sentences they actually want to use in order to experience French.
“I’ll just let them learn what they want to learn, [such as] vocabulary that’s actually useful to them, rather than being forced to learn it from a textbook,” Davis said. “As they use it more, the grammar part of French will just become instinctual.”
Challenges Davis faces are holding her students’ attention span and their lack of memory from week to week.
“Their thought process is a little all over the place so they get distracted easily,” Davis said. “Since I only have time to come in once a week right now, a lot can be forgotten, so a lot of time has to be dedicated to reviewing.”
For Davis, the language is not the only reason for her love of French, she also loves the literature, culture and world of opportunities it opens up.
“I really relate to the literature and culture of French people,” Davis said. “The opportunities I get to help people with French after all this work I’ve put into it is also probably one of the best parts of being more advanced in French.”
By teaching children a foreign language at a young age, Davis believes she is setting them up for a successful future.
“Learning another language gives you access to another culture and government entirely,” Davis said. “Career-wise, knowing a language is going to be a great asset because speaking a native language with someone in a country where that language isn’t primarily spoken builds trust in you, and it makes a connection.”