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Early French Immersion Program
French Immersion Programs have been developed throughout Canada for English-speaking students who will become functionally bilingual by the end of secondary school. Over the long term, this can be accomplished without loss in other subject areas or in personal and social growth. In Cranbrook, where French Immersion classes began in September 1990, we provide Early Immersion that begins in Kindergarten and continues throughout the years of the program to Graduation.
This information has been prepared to give you as much information as possible about Early French Immersion in the schools. You, as parents, have the right to choose either the English Program or the French Immersion Program for your child as he/she starts school.
French Immersion Schools - Cranbrook
T.M. Roberts Elementary (Early Immersion)
Principal: Christine McKie
Principal: Scott Holt
Mount Baker Secondary
Principal: Jason Tichauer
French Immersion Schools - Fernie
Isabella Dicken Elementary (Late Immersion)
Principal: Dawn Voysey
Principal: Bill Johnson
Transportation is the parent's responsibility. Where there is space students may ride on school district buses. Bussing is frequently not available; carpooling and city busses are other options.
Teachers on Call
Whenever possible a French-speaking TEACHER ON CALL is assigned to a French Immersion class. If no French-speaking teacher on call is available, an English-speaking teacher on call will be assigned. In the case of a long-term absence, a concerted effort is made to provide the children with French instruction. All TEACHERS ON CALL are certified by the College of Teachers.
French Immersion is an authorized alternative program. Students in French Immersion follow the British Columbia Ministry of Education curriculum. Instruction is in French at the elementary level with the exception of English Language Arts beginning in Grade 3. See time allotments below for secondary level. An emphasis is placed on language acquisition through the curriculum.
Time Allotment of English and French Instruction
The Board supports a French Immersion Program that will ensure a strong French academic program for students in elementary and secondary schools. The time allocations for the instruction in English and French are as follows:
Kindergarten to Grade 2
- 100% instruction in French
Grade 3 - 7:
- 75% -80% instruction in French
- 20% -25% instruction in English Language Arts
(A minor increase in English at the Grade 7 level may be appropriate.)
Grades 8 - 10:
- Minimum of 50% (3 courses) instruction in French
- Minimum of 25% (2 courses) instruction in French
- Minimum of 12.5% (1 course) instruction in French
Report Cards and Age Level Expectations
Report cards are written in English and issued three times a year.
Grade Level Expectations
Although French Immersion students receive all their instruction in French from Kindergarten to the end of Grade 2, it is recognized that the development of a French-only environment is a two-year process. Kindergarten and Grade 1 students and teachers are able to use English when necessary, responding to the personal needs of students.
By the end of Kindergarten, children should understand many common phrases and words relating to the events that take place in class. It is not an expectation that children will be speaking French spontaneously by the end of Kindergarten as they need time to get used to the sound of this new language and time to understand what the words and phrases mean. Many children will be starting to use key phrases such as "est-ce que je peux aller boire?" (May I get a drink.), "J'ai besoin d'un crayon." (I need a pencil). They may be using some French words in their English sentences; a child may say, "I've got une pomme (apple) for snack today."
By the end of Grade 1, children should be able to express orally, in French, their basic needs and describe much of what they are doing. Reading and writing skills in French are developing, though not quite as rapidly as those of the children in the English program. The French Immersion students will need to spend much time developing their understanding of the French language and increasing their vocabulary.
By the end of Grade 2, children should be expressing themselves more fluently in French though an English word may be heard in a sentence where the French word isn't known. Children should have mastered the basics of reading and be able to express simple ideas in written form. This is important because in Grade 3 they will also receive instruction in reading and writing in English.
In Grade 3, children should be quite comfortable in the basic categories of communication: speaking, listening, reading and writing.
By the end of Grade 5, children should have the basic communication skills to enable them to function in French. Throughout the rest of the years, greater fluency is achieved.
The focus on language development does not inhibit the development of skills in other curricular areas (Math, Science, Socials, English, Fine Arts...). French Immersion students have identical opportunities to take part in all school and district programs: Science Fair, Heritage Fair, Extra-Curricular Sports, Mass Choir, etc.
Specific opportunities are provided for cultural and French language development: Concours, Theatre, Carnival, visiting French authors, etc.
The Role of the Parent
Preparing Your Child for Schooling
It is important to talk to your child about schooling before opening day in September. Let your child know that the teacher will be speaking French. Reassure your child that the other children will speak English and that the teacher will understand English and accept it being spoken. Be sure to stress the positive: your child will be making new friends, playing with new toys and working with a variety of new materials.
Encouraging Your Child
For all children, parental encouragement makes a great difference in a child's attitude towards school. Your enthusiasm for the French Immersion program is very important. Although you may not speak French (like most Immersion parents) you are still the positive force in encouraging your child at home. Be available to talk to your child about his day. Not all children are willing to do this at first, and you may feel cut off. Do not pressure your child -the desire to share will come.
Reading to Your Child
We can’t emphasize enough the importance of continuing to read to your child on a regular basis in English to provide him with a background of experiences and vocabulary. This also allows him to be exposed to the rich heritage of English literature. It is also a good way to develop your child's interest in learning to read. Visits with your child to the municipal library, where both French and English books are available, are a good idea.
The Need for a Break
It is normal for your child to come home a little weary. After all, this is a very new experience. Your child will be concentrating hard on new vocabulary and concepts. Please ensure that your child has adequate rest and relaxation from the mental and emotional effort of the day. Be proud of achievements, but patient … sharing may not happen right away.
Home and School Communication
Communication between parents and teacher is essential. Parents are encouraged to meet with the teachers to discuss the progress of their children. For a formal interview, contact the teacher ahead of time to set up a time and date. If something occurs in your home, which could upset your child, such as the death of a pet or a change in the family situation, it is important that the teacher be informed right away.
If you feel something at school is interfering with your child's learning, then his teacher should be informed of this concern.
Each dual-track school has a French section in the library consisting of both fiction and non-fiction materials which include cassettes, compact disks, CD ROMs, kits, maps, magazines and videos. Students in French Immersion access French and English materials from the Library for personal or school related use.
Immersion students have the same spectrum of abilities as any other cross section of the populations. For children having difficulties, learning assistance is available. This French-speaking teacher works in French with individuals and small groups.
Curriculum and Materials
The Ministry of Education has developed a specific curriculum for French Immersion. Attached to this curriculum is an extensive list of recommended learning resources that have been previewed and approved. Individual schools choose materials from this list to suit their classroom programs.
District Educational Resources
Student Support Services
All School District No.5 parents and students have access to specialists such as counsellors, speech and language pathologists, and psychologists (for psychological testing). These services are available in English only.
Canadian Parents for French (C.P.F.)
Canadian Parents for French is a registered charity, composed primarily of English-speaking members, advocating the value of French as an integral part of Canada. www.cpf.ca.
Late French Immersion
Late French Immersion is offered at Isabella Dicken Elementary School in Fernie, beginning in Grades 4/5.
The School District is very excited about the Late French Immersion Program offered to our students. There are many advantages to learning a second language including graduation from grade twelve with a Bilingual Dogwood Certificate. The Ministry of Education recognizes that French Immersion programming benefits the cognitive and social development of students, as well as their opportunities for career advancement. Since Canada is a member of both La Francophonie and the Commonwealth, its bilingualism is a vital tool for commercial development. Against a global background of trade and competition, the acquisition of a second language is now seen as an economic “asset”.
The Late Immersion Program provides students with an education equivalent to what is available in the English language program, while providing opportunities to acquire a high level of proficiency in French. Students that graduate from the program in Grade 12 should be able to participate easily in French conversations, take post-secondary courses with French as the language of instruction, and accept employment with French as the language of work.
- Immersion programs (both Early and Late) are designed for students from any catchment area in SD#5 whose first language is other than French. Parents need NOT speak French.
- The Late French Immersion Program begins at Grade 5 and 6 with students who have no previous full-time training in the French language.
- In the first year, all subjects are taught in French.
- The English Language Arts are re-introduced in Grade 7, while other subjects continue to be taught in French.
- Students are encouraged to stay in the program through Grade 12 in order to attain a high degree of bilingualism and to receive a bilingual Dogwood graduate certificate.
- All students who have successfully completed Grade 4 and/or 5 are eligible for the program.
- The program is NOT operating separately from the normal functioning of the school. Students in the Late Immersion program will participate in all regular school activities.
- A rich selection of French language resources is available and a variety of cultural activities are offered in French.
- To develop language skills enabling students to participate easily in French conversation.
- To provide an insight into the French culture.
- To take post secondary education with French as the language of instruction.
- To gain employment using French as the work language.
- To achieve skills in all subject areas equivalent to those in the English program.
Progression of Learning French
in Grade 5/6 Late French Immersion
December . . . January
Speaks a bit in French
Speaks in short,
Speaks in longer sentences
Listens a lot
Can participate in an
Has limited comprehension
Has an average comprehension (60% of message)
Comprehends more complex written messages
Tries to make
sense of words
Comprehends written messages with short, simple sentences
Reads increasingly complex texts in French with general understanding
Gains confidence in abilities
Has acquired confidence
Is comfortable in a
variety of situations
Uses his/her abilities
in English to make
sense of what the teacher is saying
Starts to talk to other students in French
Is able to go beyond
what is given
Becomes familiar with sounds and routines
Starts to self-correct and recognize errors
How is Late French Immersion taught?
- Students are taught the same curriculum as English students but the language of instruction is French.
- At first, students have limited vocabulary so teachers concentrate on language. Later as language skills develop, the smaller details are filled in.
What about the students’ academic achievements?
- Research shows there is absolutely no detrimental effect on academic performance in any subject area despite learning in a new language.
- Larger English vocabulary as French words are often similar to English words.
- French Immersion students do better on average in all Foundation Skills Assessments: English reading, English writing, and numeracy at all grade levels.
How does Late Immersion compare with Early French Immersion?
- Late French Immersion is not a continuation of Early French Immersion. It is a separate program, offered in addition to Early Immersion, which provides an alternative final entry point for English students who want to become bilingual.
- In Grade 7, the Early and Late Immersion students join together into one program. The two groups become academically cohesive during the secondary years.
Are all subjects taught in French?
- No For the first year students of Late Immersion are taught 80% to 100% of the day in French. High school Immersion starts at 37.5% and declines to 12.5% by Grade 12.
What characteristics do students need to be successful?
- Motivation to learn
- Openness to learning in another language
- Eagerness to meet new friends and have new experiences
- Willingness to work hard, especially in the initial fall term when learning basic language skills
- Enjoyment of language activities and a willingness to spend lots of time chatting to friends in class en francais!
What commitment do parents need?
- Parents do not need to speak French and most have little or no French skills.
- Encouragement: especially during the initial fall term adjustment period when students acquire basic language skills.
- Willingness to help with homework by setting up routines and organizing time, letting the student do the translations.
- Recognition of their child’s wonderful accomplishments.
How fluent in French will a Late Immersion high school graduate be?
- Comfortable speaking and writing in French and able to understand French speakers with ease.
- Able to live and work in French-speaking environments.
- Capable of studying at a French language university.
What does Late French Immersion offer students?
- An opportunity to become functionally bilingual in both of Canada’s official languages.
- Extra enrichment and challenges.
- New friends in a classroom where the students are committed to learning.
- Learn in French, not about French, therefore no extra class time or extra homework.
- On average, higher levels of achievement in English reading and writing skills for most students due to a better understanding of languages.
- Enhanced career opportunities in our increasingly globalized society.
- Enjoyment of French books, newspapers, TV and movies.
- Increased understanding of ethnic and linguistic issues around the world.
- A feeling of achievement and pride!!!
If your child has an interest in enrolling in the Late French Immersion Program, please contact Dawn Voysey, Principal, at Isabella Dicken Elementary School in Fernie (250-423-4651).