SOFIE VAN DE KEERE
PDP - module français

Learning to teach in French can be a little intimidating, but for PDP student Sofie Van De Keere, the decision “est venu naturellement” (came naturally)

As a former French immersion student, Sofie understood the importance and opportunities that come from learning one of Canada’s official languages, so when she heard about the French module in the Professional Development Program (PDP), she was intrigued.

“I knew that I really wanted to pursue French teaching and SFU provided me the avenue to do just that,” says Sofie. “Yes, the PDP might be longer than some other programs at 16 months, but it also gave me different opportunities to explore different facets of education along with French culture and language I would not have learned nor experienced otherwise.”

The PDP French module focuses on issues specific to teaching in French in British Columbia and prepares student teachers to instruct Core French, French Immersion or Programme Francophone at the elementary or secondary level.

Supported by SFU’s Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA), student teachers in the PDP French module have access to weekly, personalized linguistic and linguistic identity support sessions, known as Content and Language Integrated Competency or CLIC, to help bolster their confidence and continually improve their French proficiency.

“OFFA and CLIC were always our biggest cheerleaders. It was great to have a French community close to us that really wanted us to succeed as French teachers,” says Sofie. “CLIC provided us with a chance to address our vulnerabilities going into our careers as French teachers and learn how to grow from them as we began prepping for our practicums. We learned the significance of community and establishing a network of support early on in the PDP experience. I know we will be there for each other throughout our next steps in our career as a result.”

For Sofie, having this ongoing support system in place early in the program proved to be critical, especially during difficult times she encountered while student teaching during COVID-19.

“The most challenging part of the program was learning to adapt and deal with uncertainty. It took a little bit of time and required a learning curve but learning to be flexible with whatever gets thrown your way is a huge part of what it means to be an educator. Teachers don’t get enough credit for hoping for plan A while preparing themselves for plans B through Z.”

Despite the obstacles she faced student teaching and learning during the pandemic, thanks to the support she received from her colleagues, the CLIC and OFFA community along with the tools and skills she obtained from the program, Sofie was able to persevere and thrive, taking those opportunities to absorb, grow, make mistakes, and eventually learn from them which will serve her well as she enters the field and pursues a career teaching French in British Columbia.

Getting her teaching certification has opened a world of possibilities for Sofie to explore as she begins her teaching journey in a province where French teachers remain in high demand. “There are so many avenues to pursue within a career in education, says Sofie. “I plan to spend time getting to know my preferred school districts, and eventually find a high school teaching position for Core French. I also plan to continue exploring more of the language and culture within this profession in the coming years.”

Reflecting on her time studying in the PDP French module and the ups and downs she encountered, Sofie sums it up best:

“Pursuing the French program through SFU was one of the more impactful decisions I could have made in terms of my education.” “Don’t get me wrong, it was not easy. There were some challenging times throughout both of my practicums and throughout my time in PDP as a whole. However, I truly believe that it is through adversities that we grow the most. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to all of my faculty advisors, my professors, my colleagues, and my school associate who not only believed in all of us but pushed us to learn and grow throughout the program.” 

Hear more about Sofie's experience at our Teacher Education Virtual Open House on March 31. Register online

Applications for the PDP’s next intake open on October 1. 
Visit the website for more information