French students share crepes with middle school students to encourage taking the class


French is the only language spoken on five continents.

It’s an official language of the United Nations. 

It’s the third most common language used on the internet.

It’s the second most common language learned in the world as a second language. 

Also, it’s offered at the school as a foreign language, and French teacher Laurie Van Houten doesn’t want students to dismiss it as a class option and forgo all of its benefits. 

“It’s certainly not more important than any other language,” Van Houten said. “All languages are important. But I think that French brings culture and history to life. The culture and history are amazing.”

Therefore, Van Houten oversaw a short trip that the French students took to the middle school in order to showcase the class, and the small facts mentioned earlier—along with other personal stories from the high school French students—were parts of what were used to encourage the younger students.

The main element that tied the trip together, however, were crepes, which were made with the help of parent volunteers and were handed out at both lunches at the middle school. This is the first time this experience has occurred, and the crepes functioned as a fun, tasty treat for the students, as well as an advertisement for the French classes.

“I think that [students] sometimes forget that there are other options,” Van Houten said, “and we just wanted to make aware that all languages are great. But French is an option. [Making crepes] was a way to get [middle school students] involved and give them something to talk a little bit about.”

According to Van Houten, her third, fourth, and fifth hours went to the middle school in groups during their lunch period. Usually, there were around 20 kids at a time, and senior Pranav Nalam—who is currently in AP French—was one of these students who participated.

In his opinion, making crepes and sharing them with the younger students was a positive activity that not only helped spark interest but tasted good too. 

“I don’t think enough people [are taking French classes],” Pranav said. “You can always have more people learn the language. That’s why we were doing the crepe day, so we could encourage more of the middle schoolers to take up classes so we can have a much more collaborative environment in the classroom.”

The high school students were the main force that helped encourage the middle school students, and Pranav said he personally explained how French is advantageous to anyone learning it. The advantages he explained included some of the facts stated earlier, specifically focusing on how the language has a wide scope of applications. 

Although both Van Houten and Pranav stated that learning any language is a positive contribution to a student’s life and French isn’t necessarily superior in any way, French is an option available. And Pranav claims that the crepes helped to communicate this message to incoming high school students. 

Whether it gets more kids thinking about French or not doesn’t matter because it was still a fun thing to do.

— Laurie Van Houten

“I think [making crepes] helped,” Pranav said. “There were a couple of people who really seemed excited about the crepes. I think they understood the fact that it’s a part of French culture. It’s just a little snippet of what French culture is, and some people expressed great enthusiasm for taking French.”

Junior Taj Dhillon, who is also in AP French, has been learning French since she was in first grade. For her, she is compelled by the universality of the language, since it is rooted in Latin, as well as how learning it can help her communicate to people in other countries.

Taj enjoyed the trip to the middle school and hopes that students will choose a language that she claims is “out of the ordinary,” since the majority of students at the schools take Spanish as a foreign language. 

“There was free food, and kids love free food,” said Taj, describing her experience at the middle school. “I also enjoyed interacting with [the middle school students] and telling them about French. They seemed [interested]. I think a solid group of students will take French next year, but I know a lot of kids think it’s hard and won’t take it. But, we’re hoping that we’ll get more kids.”

Since several of the elementary schools in the district teach Spanish as a foreign language and give no other options, French is often forgotten, according to Van Houten; therefore, Van Houten wants middle school students to know that they are allowed to choose which path to study.

“I think all languages are great,” Van Houten said, “but we need to have diversity. So I think [it’s important] to give [students] a better idea of why other languages are also important and to let them know there’s more than one possibility out there. It doesn’t hurt to go down [to the middle school] and say ‘yoohoo, don’t forget us.’”

After connecting with the middle school students and speaking to them about French and its benefits, Pranav feels happy that some students gained excitement from the crepe day. He hopes that more students will continue to fill the chairs in Van Houten’s classroom. 

“[I feel] really hopeful and happy,” Pranav said, “because I feel like a part of [the] French community now, especially in school. It’s always great seeing more people learning the language and doing something that you’ve been doing.”

In the future, Van Houten hopes to continue sharing a piece of French culture with students—both potential French students and other students who decide to follow a different path—because, despite its success in advertisement, the day in itself was a fun experience.

“I would like to continue [the crepe day in future years] if we have the time,” Van Houten said, “because it was fun. Whether it gets more kids thinking about French or not doesn’t matter because it was still a fun thing to do.”