Leading French student

SMCHS sophomore had a French class created just for her.


Ivanna Rea

Sophomore Rachel Kim gets the best of both worlds by understanding both South Korean and French culture.

Attending a class designated for a group of kids? Common. Attending a class with a curriculum made just for you? Unheard of.

Sophomore Rachel Kim has her own French 5 Honors class here at SMCHS. After studying the language at an international school in Korea, Kim was the only one qualified for this high level of French after taking a placement test in 2014.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m completely fluent,” Kim said. “If I went to [France] I might just have to ask [them] to repeat something if they talk fast but I could probably hold a proper conversation. The thought of travelling to France and having a conversation with the locals in French is a big motivation.”

Kim’s French teacher, Florence Delfolie, has high praises for her as a student.

“She’s one of the most outstanding students I’ve ever had,” Delfolie said. “She’s mature, respectful and eager to share with others.”

Kim was born in South Korea and spent half of her life moving around from her homeland to Hong Kong to the English-speaking region of Canada.

“Moving around a lot meant I had to adjust to new environments often and make new friends whenever I moved schools,” Kim said. “I think the frequent changes in my environment starting from an early age helped me develop a very open outlook in the differences between cultures and peoples in different countries.”

Having learned five years of French, Kim practices the language whenever she gets the chance to put in extra practice.

“No one in my family speaks French,” Kim said. “I listen to a lot of French songs.  I try to expose myself to a lot of French culture because I don’t get much of it. It would be weird if I’ve been learning French and I didn’t speak any French.”

The language itself is extremely diverse in that it opens doors for all kinds of opportunities that Kim desires to take advantage of.

“I started learning French because I want to work at the United Nations, or become a diplomat,” Kim said. “I want to study abroad in France in college for a semester or two, so that I can further improve my French and immerse myself in the wonderful culture. French is the official language in many African countries, which should also be helpful when I want to volunteer. ”

Kim is currently grouped with kids from French HL 2, French SL IB and French 4. Over this past summer, Delfolie made her read “Candide” by Voltaire.

“It’s a lot of self-learning I would say with guidance from Ms. Delfolie,” Kim said. “Since she has to teach other people she just tells me to read it and answer certain reading comprehension questions.”

The class itself is a melting pot of different French levels, so it’s easy for the teacher to give Kim independent work.

“Being the only student working on it in my class means that I need to ask myself a lot of questions, since I can’t really ask other students on their opinions,” Kim said. “It’s nice to know that I have a flexible curriculum and I’m in charge of how much I learn because it makes me more self-motivated.”

Kim continues to improve her French every day. Next year she’ll be taking IB French HL 1 and then IB HL 2 to successfully finish her French speaking career in high school.

“You only get a few like her in your career as a teacher,” Delfolie said.