Path to French Immersion begins many miles away

Mobina Aghili

Every student’s story is unique, and the path to French Immersion doesn’t always start from the first days in school. Mobina Aghili’s journey into the Late French Immersion program at Ecole Pauline Johnson didn’t even begin in Canada.

Born and educated for her first few years in Iran, Mobina is already bilingual in Persian and English. Her family moved to Canada when Mobina was ready for Grade 3. While she did her first year in North Vancouver, she completed Grades 4 and 5 at Irwin Park Elementary, before her mother suggested that she should consider the late French Immersion program at Ecole Pauline Johnson in Grade 6.

“At first I was really worried; I thought I might lose touch with good friends, that my grades would drop and that it would be very difficult,” says Mobina. “But none of that happened.”

Mobina has, in fact, thrived in the program in her very first year, taking 3rd place in the 2015 BC Yukon Parents for French Concours d’art Oratoire public speaking competition. She still keeps in touch with friends made at her previous school, and has made many new connections in her new environment.

As an older student considering the program, Mobina was more involved in the decision to undertake French Immersion than children who enter at an earlier age. While she admits that she was initially nervous about the change, her late entry made it easy for her to understand that there were major advantages for her down the road.

“Knowing other languages is real talent – it opens doors and opportunities,” says Mobina. “If I want a government job, for example, you really need to have three languages, and I already had two. As my mother often tells me, I just need a little tiny push and then I get into it and try my best.”

For students thinking about making the move at the same time she did, she says it’s important that they really want to do it.

“No matter what you do, if you don’t really embrace and want to do it, it will be hard to do well.”

In her spare time, Mobina dedicates many hours to ballet and piano, which she also clearly loves to do with just as much energy and dedication.