French Immersion

Bienvenue au programme d’immersion à l’école secondaire Foothills Composite.

The French Immersion Program is for students who have completed Grade 9 French Immersion courses either in the Continuing Bilingual program or the late Immersion Program.

French Immersion is a highly successful approach to second language learning. When French is not a language used in the home, formal instruction in school is often the most convenient option for children to learn it. Given the strong support for bilingualism in Canada, French Immersion has become an important component of efforts to recognize the individual and society-wide benefits of second language acquisition.

Second language skills are a passport to the world, the key to a rich professional, personal and cultural life.

In 2007, the Canadian Council on Learning published its 10 Lessons In Learning report reaffirming that the benefits of English/French bilingual fluency in Canada include economic, cognitive and cultural ones. On average, Canadians speaking both official languages have income levels higher than those speaking only English or only French. Further, it has been documented that bilingual people have enhanced problem-solving skills because of their ability to filter relevant information and disregard misleading information.

When Should My Child Begin?

While enrollment in intensive or immersion French at just about any age of schooling relates to higher rates of bilingualism, the number of years of study has a clear impact. For this reason, Foothills School Division offers students the opportunity to enter French Immersion at the Kindergarten level.  The more years a student can devote to learning a language, the better the outcome.

Statistics Canada data published in 2006 reaffirms that students entering French Immersion prior to Grade 4 have a 20% greater likelihood of remaining bilingually conversant by age 21. Similarly, almost 80% of those engaged in a French Immersion program for six years or more retain fully bilingual language skills by age 21.

How Does The French Immersion Program Work?

French Immersion programs follow the same Alberta Education curricular guidelines as the English program. Only the language of instruction is different.

In grades Kindergarten through 3, students experience 100% of their instructional time in French. Through repetition and role modeling, students are provided with positive encouragement to try out this new language. Students are permitted to use English in the classroom while teachers will respond with words and phrases that, through watching and listening, students absorb and learn to respond to appropriately.

In grades K- 2, English Language Arts is not part of the curricula.

Beginning in Grade 3, English Language Arts is introduced as a core subject and continued every year thereafter along with those taught in French: Social Studies, Mathematics, Science and French Language Arts.

There is no requirement for parents to be bilingual in French. In fact, immersion programs are designed for children whose parents have little or no facility in French. That said, parental support and encourage­ment is essential. You can help you child by exposing him or her to French language and culture outside the school – books, videos, theatre, television or cultural events – any activity that allows for extracurricular use of the language will build skill, vocabulary and confidence.

Will French Immersion Mask Or Worsen Any Learning Disabilities My Child Might Have?

French Immersion students will range from gifted to those with behavioural, emotional, physical or learning challenges. Learning disabilities are unique to the Individual; French Immersion will not cause them. A child experiencing reading, writing or other classroom difficulties will exhibit that problem regardless of the language of instruction.

Overall research suggests students with disabilities can succeed in a French Immersion program. Given support and suitable special education services, these students can develop competence in French while keeping their English language skills. Consult with your child’s teacher or the administration at the school you are considering if you wish to explore this topic further.

Does French Immersion Lead To Poor English Language Skills Development?

Research has shown consistently that the English language skills of French Immersion students meet or exceed those of children in regular English language programs. There is often an initial lag in English skills development, particularly in Spelling, but this is not unexpected in a predominantly French language learning environment.

These same studies have demonstrated that the gradual introduction of English language instruction closes this skills gap by the end of elementary school. In fact, given that roughly half of all English words have a French or Latin root, knowledge of French can aid in building English vocabulary and spelling.

What About The Immigrant Or English Second Language/Earner?

On the surface, it may seem that learning English as a Second Language {ESL) presents challenge enough to immigrant students whose first language is not English. However, available evidence indicates that immigrant ESL students enrolled in French Immersion perform as well as their Anglophone counterparts. The French Immersion classroom can often provide advantages not available to immigrant students in the English classroom. For example, all students in French Immersion settings are learning a second language and the use of visual aids, gestures and rephrasing are de­ signed to support all students in that environment. ESL students who come to French Immersion having al­ ready developed literacy in their home language often perform even better than Anglophone students.

What Are The Entrance Guidelines For French Immersion In Foothills?

The French Immersion Program is accessible as an entry point to any child of age entering Kindergarten or Grade 1, or to any student in grade 2- 9 moving into Foothills School Division and having participated in French Immersion at their previous school location.

This commitment to its French Immersion Program was adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2001and complete details around the admission

French Social Studies and French Language Arts will not be in the same semester, as both of these courses require a variety of verbal, written, and reading assignments.

The required courses in French Immersion for Gr. 10 study:

  • French Language Arts 10-1: 5 credits
  • French Social Studies 10-1: 5 credits

The required courses in French Immersion for Gr. 11 study:

  • French Language Arts 20-1: 5 credits
  • French Social Studies 20-1: 5 credits

The required courses in French Immersion for Gr. 12 study:

  • French Language Arts 30-1: 5 credits
  • French Social Studies 30-1: 5 credits

Expectations of French Immersion Students:

  • Students are expected to speak in French in French Immersion classes
  • Students are expected to do all assigned work and ask for help when needed
  • French grammar is taught explicitly and it is expected that students will make every effort possible to correct work in order to improve writing skills
  • Verbal presentations are also very important and students are expected to make in-class verbal presentations