My name is Olga Lawes Melikoff and I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
One of the special interests in my life has been second-language learning. By my life experience I have been faced with the need or the desire to learn several languages. I have also watched others, mainly family members, cope with the challenge of acquiring second, third, and even additional languages. This experience has given me, both as an individual and as a member of society, an awareness of some of the difficulties and rewards of learning languages other than one’s own and a desire to be involved in developments in this important field.
My objective in creating this website is firstly to describe my experience in the 1960s as a founding member of the St. Lambert experiment in French immersion, the first program of its kind in the public school system of Canada. As well, I would like to share archival material that will illustrate the development of this program. Finally, I will relate some of my personal and family experiences with language learning.
Informally, I learned Russian from my Russian mother and French from French-speaking domestic help in Montreal. Formally, I studied French at schools in Montreal and Washington, D.C., and majored in French at Wellesley College. There I had the privilege of studying Russian with Vladimir Nabokov for two years. Upon graduation, I took a summer school course at the Sorbonne in Paris. Later, when I was involved in bilingual education in St. Lambert, I earned a Master of Arts degree in Second Language Teaching at the Université de Montréal. I taught English as a second language in the Federal Public Service for a period of four or five years in the 1970’s. In the 1980’s, I attended Russian summer school at Middlebury College In Vermont. Ever since, I have kept up my interest in developments in the field of second language learning.