Howdy, dear readers! How are you doing?
For those of you you who have kids, how is your year going so far? Let me guess…a bit on a busier side? Yeah, I understand.
My kids went to 2nd grade ( older daughter) and SK ( younger daughter). And its been good so far. While my younger one finally learned to read her sibling learned more french.
I wanted to talk about French Immersion schools today and how to help kids strive in there.
First of all let me explain to you what French Immersion actually is.
Since French is one of Canada’s two official languages, French as Second Language (FSL) is taught in Ontario’s English-language school boards. Students have significant advantages when they speak more than one language. Learning another language helps students to strengthen their problem-solving, reasoning and creative thinking skills; develop their understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures; increase their competitiveness in an increasingly global job market and enhance their first-language and overall literacy skills.
In addition to providing a foundation for the learning of additional languages and the potential for more opportunities to participate in an increasingly globalized economy, learning FSL helps Ontario students to understand Canada’s history and to develop an appreciation of French culture.
So….what are the FSL programs in Ontario?
Students learn French as a subject. At the elementary level, students must accumulate a minimum of 600 hours of French instruction by the end of Grade 8. At the secondary level, academic, applied and open courses are offered for Grades 9 and 10; university preparation and open courses are offered for Grades 11 and 12.
Students learn French as a subject and French serves as the language of instruction in at least one other subject. At the elementary level, at least 25 per cent of all instruction is provided in French. At the secondary level, academic courses are offered for Grades 9 and 10; university preparation courses are offered for Grades 11 and 12. In the Extended French program, students accumulate seven credits in French: four are FSL language courses and three are other subjects in which French is the language of instruction.
Students learn French as a subject and French serves as the language of instruction in two or more other subjects. At the elementary level, at least 50 per cent of all instruction is provided in French. At the secondary level, academic and applied courses are offered for Grades 9 and 10; university preparation and open courses are offered for Grades 11 and 12. In the French Immersion program, students accumulate ten credits in French: four are FSL language courses and six are other subjects in which French is the language of instruction.
Above that, there are also French-language schools. Please don’t mix them up with the 3 above mentioned school programs.
In these schools the curriculum is taught exclusively in French, with the exception of English language courses. French-language schools in Ontario have a mandate to protect, enhance and transmit the French language and culture.
French-language education serves students whose parents are “French-language rights-holders”, according to section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom ( A rights holder is a parent or guardian who lives in Ontario, is a Canadian citizen and meets at least one of the following criteria:
His/her native language is French, that is, the first language learned and still understood; or
He or she has received his or her education at the elementary level in a French-language education institution in Canada ; or
He or she is the parent (guardian) of a child who has received or receives his/her education at the elementary or secondary level in a French-language education institution in Canada.)
So as you see, while Core french, Extended french and French immersion are designed for students whose parents don’t speak any French, the French-language schools are designed for students who must know and speak french ( of course there are always exceptions, depending on the region….for example if your region has lots of french-language schools and only few french speaking parents – hence only little % of incoming eligible students – they might take any students then).
For more information you should refer to your school board. I live in Ontario and even here we have different school boards depending on the region and few differences between them.
My kids go ( and some WILL go next year) to French Immersion. So I will talk a bit about this program.
As I mentioned before French Immersion programs are designed to provide non-francophone children with a high degree of proficiency in the French language.
While any exposure to a second language is beneficial, French Immersion broadens and deepens that exposure. In Immersion programs, French is not only a subject, but a language of instruction and a means of communication.
For example if you are from Toronto you child will start French Immersion from SK. I am not exactly from Toronto itself, but from Toronto GTA – York region. We have different rules in here.
Kids start French Immersion only from Grade 1. And if they miss it – that’s it…you cannot start in from Grade 2…or 3…. If you didn’t start from Grade 1 – that’s it ( the reason why my kids go to different schools for now….I am so tired dropping them off to different schools all the time! )
Now, if for some reason you decide to change your mind or your kid decides that he doesn’t like that program – you can always go back to English school, but not vice versa. How it work in York Region: Kids start to learn everything in French only…100% of the time – until grade 4. From grade 4 it splits to 50/50.
So in Grades 1, 2 and 3, all subjects are taught in French. Starting in Grade 4, time is shared equally between French and English instruction. The French Immersion program continues in high school. Secondary school students must earn at least 10 French Immersion credits to qualify for the French Immersion Certificate upon graduation.
Putting your kid into French Immersion or leave him in English school is totally up to you. It is not the program for everyone. If you are one of these parents that like to control your child’s education and homework, then of course you won’t feel comfortable not knowing whats going on and using google translator all the time… especially if your child is constantly asking for your help.
I am one of the easy going parents that let their kids do their best without too much control. I tough them to be independent so they are. They never ask me for help with their homework….Out of the interest I myself sometimes will use google translator just to see whats going on and of course I read and sign their agendas.
In FI schools teachers interact with parents in English, so in case you need to talk to the teacher – you can do so in English.
Check out my French Language Resources post about how to help your kids ( and yourselves) with French. It has lots of links and helpful information.