COEUR d’ALENE — Ashley Linford filled in little pictures with her crayons, making sure the one labeled "jaune" was yellow and "vert" was green.
“It’s good,” she said with a shy smile. "I’m learning the colors in French."
What was most exciting for the Skyway Elementary kindergartener and her classmates was who visited them for a French lesson on Wednesday — Jim Maurer's French language students from Lake City High School.
"It’s great because it really makes my kids focus on their pronunciations," Maurer said. "It’s great to see the older kids interact with the younger kids. No cell phones, just coloring sheets."
The 20 LCHS higher-level French students worked in groups of three and four as they introduced their younger counterparts to the color basics of the Romance language. The high-schoolers used visual aides to help the little ones associate the French words with the proper colors.
“It’s really interesting to see how passionate they are about learning French,” said junior Crista Falk. “It’s really important from an early age to learn these language skills because it helps them out later on."
The kindergarteners' eyes lit up as they interacted with the older students, with many high-fives happening throughout the two classrooms of teachers Katie Semko and Jacque Dean.
"What’s really cool is that when they’re learning a language different than their own, you get their perspective," Dean said. "I think it will help them when they start learning how to read and all those kinds of things, so it’s really cool."
This was the first of four visits planned for the high-schoolers to use their language knowledge to help teach French to the younger students.
“I’ve always grown up around little kids, my family is really big,” said LCHS senior Jordan Lo. “I love putting those skills into use.”
Maurer said he is "hands-off" as his students create their own lesson plans for the kindergarteners. He said this is a great opportunity for his students as well as the kindergarteners because early exposure to foreign language is a positive thing.
"The younger you expose a kid to a foreign language, the easier it is not only the acquisition of English, but of whatever foreign language they take some other day," he said. "They get the base of a foreign language that they may or may not be getting at home. And it’s just fun to be able to be on the playground and point at something and say, ‘vert, that’s green.’”
The first day of the high-schoolers French lessons was a big day for kindergartener Nolan Herbig, who felt pretty awesome when Maurer and his students sang "Happy Birthday" to him in French.
“Well, it’s about the, you know, happy birthday Nolan," he said happily.
The LCHS students are also working with Bryan Elementary kindergarteners for a couple French sessions. This is the second year for the French students to share their language education with younger students at other schools. Later lessons will include numbers, letters and animals.