Scarborough youth compete in French vocabulary contest

Children and their parents were both exposed to the importance of speaking French on Saturday afternoon at the Woodside Square Public Library as students from grades six to nine competed in a fun, challenging French vocabulary contest.

The event, organized by a group called Tutor on Wheels, was done to boost the active use of one of Canada’s official languages among students.

“I think that learning a language – any language – is a good thing because it opens up your mind and the way you look at things,” Anju Rajkoomar, a judge at the day’s competition and teacher for 25 years said.

“It encourages you to understand other cultures, other countries and other traditions, especially in Canada since we’re a multicultural country. When it comes to French, I think the Government of Canada is investing a lot of money to encourage people to learn the language. So why not seize this opportunity?”

In addition to organizing public events, Tutor on Wheels also provides services where kids can have experts in school subjects come into their homes and help them wherever they may have difficulties.

Sarma Donepudi, founder and executive director in charge of the organization has made partnerships with all the major school boards including the Toronto District, York Region, Toronto Catholic and Peel. One of the mandates he has set out is to improve community literacy among GTA children.

Donepudi insists that the best learning happens outside the classroom.

“Events like this encourage participation,” he said.

“What they do in school is in an academic environment. This is a community environment. Parents, kids and the community should move together. Events like this double up the competitive spirit – participation is important, winning comes second.”

After three intense rounds of competition including pronunciation, spelling and translation, grade eight student Deeana Saminathan was the overall winner with Niranjan Krishnaswany coming in a close second. Both will advance to the finals next week where they will be eligible for a $300 grand prize.

“I feel very excited about winning the French vocabulary contest and am looking forward to the finals,” Saminathan said.

She has career ambitions of becoming a French teacher. Winning this competition, she admits, is just the first step into a lifetime full of speaking en francais.

“[Being here is] actually encouraging me to have French in my life,” Saminathan said. “Since it’s one of our official languages in Canada I should really know it well. It will be helpful in the future to getting a good job.”

To learn more about Tutor on Wheels and their events, visit www.tutoronwheels.com.