Learning French helps Hohm sisters on career path

By Leah Simonot, Camrose Canadian

Twenty-one youths were recognized during La Célébration de la Francophonie at the University of Alberta-Augustana on March 7. Leah Simonot/ Camrose Canadian

Twenty-one youths were recognized during La Célébration de la Francophonie at the University of Alberta-Augustana on March 7. Leah Simonot/ Camrose Canadian

The Hohm sisters have made much progress in their bilingual journey since starting out as kindergartners in École Sifton School’s French Immersion Program.  

Now a first-year music student at the University of Alberta-Augustana Campus, 18-year-old Juanita fondly recalls her experience as part of the first FIM class to graduate from ÉSS. Motivated by a strong sense of determination and a genuine appreciation for French, the challenges of learning a second language in a developing program were hardly barriers to her as she pursued her studies through high school and into post-secondary.  

Receiving a Prix d’Excellence for outstanding performance in French education at La Célébration de la Francophonie was a reminder of the hard work she’s done and her readiness to dedicate herself to her studies. 

“There is a whole group of people that are … recognizing my learning and I’m grateful for that acknowledgment,” said Juanita, following an awards ceremony that filled up Augustana’s Wahkohtowin Lodge on

March 7. 

After 14 years with the language, she considers it a part of her identity and was proud to receive an award reflecting that.  

Throughout her education, Juanita’s applied many of the abilities developed in her French classes to other subjects. While her increased vocabulary and writing skills have proven beneficial in her English classes, her capacity for interpreting foreign terms has aided her in the Sciences. Academics aside, she’s appreciative of the many secondary skills she’s gained through her bilingual education, such as cultural awareness and open-mindedness.  

“It was just a part of my education and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Juanita. “I hope that any student in French Immersion looks at anyone from my class, the first French Immersion class, and can see that we’ve pushed through maybe some of the difficulties in school and made it to the end. It has really benefitted us in many ways.” 

For 14-year-old Kassia, a Grade 9 French Immersion student at École Camrose Composite High School, this was certainly an example to look up to. Kassia shares in her sister’s enthusiasm and was equally excited to receive a Prix d’Excellence.  

“I’m proud because I try really hard in French and it’s nice to be recognized for trying hard,” said Kassia. “I know in the future it will provide a lot of jobs, good jobs, if you can prove that you know how to speak French. Maybe even government jobs” 

Drawn by the prospect of travel and interested in becoming a French Immersion teacher, she appreciates the opportunities French gives her to widen her horizons.  

“It’s cool when you go to a place with lots of cultures and you can understand what people speaking French are saying,” said Kassia. “I think it’s important because when you have fun with the French language, then it’s fun celebrating culture.” 

La Célébration de la Francophonie recognized a total of 21 students from local language programs, including French Immersion and core French students from Camrose and Hay Lakes. Young performers from École Sifton School and École des Voyageurs provided musical accompaniment for the evening, along with Augustana student Jenny Green, who performed a rendition of the Acadian-French folk song “Evangéline.” 

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