Meriwether Elementary students learn French as second language

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- There's a lot of French speakers roaming the halls at Meriwether Lewis Elementary School.

Albemarle County Public Schools is expanding its dual language program, and students at Meriwether chose French as the language they wanted to learn.

Whether it's saying hello, counting to ten, or touching your toes, students are using their senses to learn French, and teachers say that is the idea.

"It's really important to have strong pronunciation and start that earlier," said teacher Elizabeth Brann. "For them to learn sounds and movement with their mouths in another language is really helpful for them."

Meriwether Lewis is the first school to pilot French as the second language of choice. In previous years, other schools like Cale Elementary have applied Spanish to their dual language program.

Brann says it is not surprising to pick French as a second language, because it is widely spoken all over the globe as the sixth most-spoken language.

"When you look at a passport, you see English and French," said Brann.

Students say they are learning a lot and cannot wait to teach their friends.

"We would teach them how to use French words, and how to say them correctly," said McKenzie, a student in Brann's class.

Parents are getting in on the fun as well by finding unique ways to take what their kids are learning inside the classroom and applying that at home.

"We love that he makes the connection of 'that's counting in Spanish, but I can count in French,'" said mother Mary Anderson. "He's teaching it to his brother, and his grandparents."

Teachers say by teaching students a second language at such a young age, it develops the brain and expands the mind, which can open more doors to a brighter future.

"It also opens so many connections in their brain, and helps with problem solving in their life," said Brann.

Before French was picked as the language of choice, students also had the option Spanish and Mandarin.

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