What is Canadian Parents for French (Ontario)?

Canadian Parents for French (CPF) is the national network of volunteers which values French as an integral part of Canada and which is dedicated to the promotion and creation of French-second-language learning opportunities for young Canadians.

CPF Ontario is one of 11 provincial branches whose staff provides information and materials on French language learning to teachers, parents, and the general public across the province. We create and promote opportunities for youth to learn, use, and enjoy French, both within the classroom and outside of school. CPF Ontario is also engaged in advocating for accessible quality FSL education for all youth across the province.

We have numerous local Chapters across the province that carry out activities that support French as a second language (FSL) learning both inside and outside of the classroom.

CPF Organizational Chart

What is a CPF Ontario Chapter?

CPF Ontario has over 30 local Chapters across the province, lead by dedicated volunteers. Chapters help strengthen French-as-a-second (FSL) language education in Ontario by:

  • distributing information about FSL education in their communities;

  • working to support local FSL programs;

  • encouraging and sponsoring extracurricular French experiences for young people.

What does CPF Ontario do?

Advocacy and Support for FSL Education. CPF Ontario promotes quality FSL education at a provincial and local level, both independently and through collaboration with like-minded organizations. CPF Ontario works with teachers, principals, trustees and school boards to promote and improve FSL opportunities at the community level, based on well-founded FSL research and proven practices.

Culture. CPF Ontario seeks to raise awareness of the value of learning French as a second language by sponsoring cultural events in communities throughout Ontario.

Member Services. As a grassroots organization, CPF Ontario prides itself on the service and value offered to its members. Acting as an information resource for parents, organizing community events and running summer camps, CPF Ontario services continue to expand to meet the needs of its members. CPF Ontario works with teachers, principals, administrators, trustees, and other community leaders to maintain and strengthen French second language programs in Ontario schools.

Across Canada: CPF National works with the federal government and national organizations involved in education to create an environment supportive of French second language education. CPF provides volunteer training and development. CPF provides information and resources about French second language learning.

Across Ontario: CPF Ontario works with the Ministry of Education, teacher organizations, and other groups concerned about education to ensure that there is support for French second language education.

CPF Ontario organizes French language activities for students from across Ontario, such as Concours d’art oratoire, the provinces largest French public speaking competition for students grades 4-12, and Camp Esprit, an overnight weekend French leadership camp for students in grades 7-9.

In your community: CPF Chapters organize in-school activities such as winter carnivals, performances by French speaking artists, public speaking contests and a myriad of activities that support and enhance learning French.

CPF Ontario sponsors out-of-school programs such as afterschool programs, winter and summer camps, exchanges, educational visits and weekend workshops for all students learning French.

What is CPF’s history?

CPF was founded in 1977 by parents who wanted to ensure that children would have the opportunity to become bilingual in the Canadian school system. Keith Spicer, Canada’s first Commissioner of Official Languages, had met groups of parents across Canada who wanted their children to learn French as a second language (FSL) but who ran into roadblocks at the local school board. To get the ball rolling, Mr. Spicer offered to find some seed money — enough to organize a national conference of like-minded parents. The result was an event called “Parents’ Conference on French Language and Exchange Opportunities,” which took place in Ottawa in March of 1977. It was during the weekend-long conference that CPF was officially founded as a volunteer-based advocacy group.

The first conference determined a few things that are fundamental to the history of CPF. For one, the group outlined its goals, and two, the group elected its first National Board of Directors. Pat Webster became the first Chair or President of CPF. The first Directors were: Judith Madley (British Columbia), David Saunders (Prairie Region), Pat Webster (Ontario), Elizabeth Annesley (Quebec), and Mary Lou Morrison (Atlantic Region).

This original small group of concerned parents who met in Ottawa over 30 years ago, has evolved into a proactive national network with 10 Branch offices and some 150 Chapters in communities coast to coast.

What is a CPF Membership?

There are two types of memberships:

Individual/Family Membership:

- for parents, educators, researchers, individuals interested in joining CPF

- up to two adults per family/household per family membership

- voting members of CPF

- $25/year or $60 for 3 years

Associate Member Organization (AMO):

- for schools, school boards, organizations, not-for profits, companies interested in joining CPF for up-to-date research and information to benefit their professional lives

- can share benefits with their organization

- non-voting members of CPF

- $60/year or $150 for 3 years

 

10% of your membership fee goes to CPF National to help support their country-wide initiatives, research, and publications, 25% goes to the provincial branch to help support their province-wide initiatives, programming, and general outreach, and 65% goes back to your local Chapter to help support programs and activities in your area.

Why become an Individual/Family Member?

 

Please see Benefits of Family/Individual Membership for the many benefits!

 

 

Why become an Associate Member Organization (AMO)?

Please see Benefits of Becoming an Associate Member Organization for the many benefits!

How do I become a member of CPF?

You can join online. Processing a membership application can take between 4 – 6 weeks.

Why learn French?

Every family has their individual reasons for wanting their child to learn French and each student has their own reasons for continuing in the program. Motivations range from a desire to be proficient in both of Canada’s official languages, to the benefits of more employment opportunities and mobility, to a love for languages and the desire to expand one’s understanding of the world. Research over the past several decades has firmly and continuously demonstrated that learning a second, third, or even fourth language results in cognitive, cultural, academic, and economic/career benefits. Learning French can:

  • strengthens a person’s vocabulary and skills in their first language, including communication, learning and memory skills1,2

  • enhances cognitive functions, problem solving and reasoning skills3,4,5

  • increases access to more cultural opportunities, including travel, literature, films, sports, music, etc.

  • provides a broader perspective and deeper understanding of the world6

  • increases job opportunities

  • increase job salary7

  • increases access to information and technology8


French in Canada. French and English are the two official languages of Canada, meaning that both languages are celebrated and protected under the Official Languages Act. French is spoken by over 7,500,000 people in Canada coast to coast to coast and over 500,000 people in Ontario.9All federal public services, as well as many provincial services, are at the very least offered in French and English. As such, there exist over 70,000 French-English bilingual jobs in Canada, with an estimated 5,000 positions becoming available every year.10 Canada has thriving French film, music, and art industries, including festivals across the country, and French-Canadian actors, producers, singers, and artists who are internationally renowned.

French around the world. There are over 200 million people who speak French around the world, including 72 million people who speak French as an additional language. 60% of French users are under 30. French is the 9th most widely used language (English being the first) and the only language on the planet other than English used on all continents. French is the 3rdmost widely used language on the web.11

French in the global economy. French is an official working language of:

Council of Europe
European Economic Community
Free Trade Area of the Americas
International Criminal Court (ICC)
International Federation of Association Football (FIFA)
International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC)
International Labour Organization
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
International Telecommunications Union
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
United Nations (UN)
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
World Trade Organization (WTO)

[1] Swain, M. & Lapkin, S. (2000). Task-based second language learning: the uses of the first language. Language Teaching Research, 4(3), pp. 251–274.

[2] Impact of Second Language on Intellectual Development

[3] Lazaruk, W. (2007). Linguistic, Academic, and Cognitive Benefits of French Immersion. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 65(5), pp. 605-628.

[4] Impact of Second Language on Intellectual Development

[5] Peal, E., & Lambert, W. (1962). The relation of bilingualism to intelligence. Psychological Monographs, 76, pp. 1-23.

[6] Genesee, F. & Gándara, P. (1999). Bilingual Education Programs: A Cross-National Perspective. Journal of Social Issues, 55(4), pp.665-685.

[7] It Pays to Be Bilingual in Canada: Though Not Everywhere

[8] See http://www.francophonie.org/English.html

[9] Census Canada (2006) http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2006/dp-pd/hlt/97-555/T401-eng.cfm?Lang=E&T=401&GH=6&GF=35&SC=1&S=0&O=A

[10] 5,000 Bilingual positions to be filled every year: the role of postsecondary institutions in promoting Canada’s linguistic duality

[11] Statistics taken from http://www.francophonie.org/English.html (unless otherwise stated)

What are the benefits of learning an additional language?

Academic Benefits.Research has shown that French Immersion programs can not only increase proficiency and performance in French, but in other subjects as well, such as English and math.1Several studies have demonstrated that students in French Immersion may originally lag in English literacy skills due to their immersion in French, but that by the time they reach middle school (grade 6-8) their English language skills meet and even exceed those of students in the English program.2,3

Career/Economic Benefits.Knowing French not only increases job opportunities but also increases salary. Knowing both French and English can have a significant and positive influence on income. Across Canada, on average, the median income for those who speak both French and English is nearly 10% higher than those who only speak English.4

Cognitive Benefits.Studies have show that learning a second language in an immersion setting can have significant intellectual and cognitive benefits, including more diversified cognitive ability, more creativity (and more outlets for that creativity), and more divergent and higher-order thinking skills. Research has also shown that by learning a second language, it becomes easier to learn a third, fourth, etc. language later on in life.5,6

Cultural Benefits.Learning French provides opportunities to interact with speakers of French around the world, increasing opportunities for travel and/or study abroad. Proficiency in French opens doors to the arts, the ability to appreciate and enjoy literature, films, dance, and music in their original forms. French Immersion programs have been shown to increase cultural awareness and reduce prejudice and discriminatory attitudes in youth.7

1 Harley, B., Hart, D. & Lapkin, S. (1986). The effects of early bilingual schooling on first language skills. Applied Psycholinguistics, 7(4), pp. 295-321.

2 Turnbull, M., Lapkin, S., & Hart, D. (2001). Grade 3 Immersion students’ performance in literacy and mathematics: province-wide results from Ontario (1998-99). Canadian Modern Language Review, 58(1), pp. 9-26.

3 Turnbull, M., Hart, D., & Lapkin, S. (2003). Grade 6 French Immersion students’ performance on large-scale reading, writing, and mathematics test: building explanations. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 49(1), pp. 6-23.

4 It Pays to Be Bilingual in Canada: Though Not Everywhere

5 Peal, E., & Lambert, W. (1962). The relation of bilingualism to intelligence. Psychological Monographs, 76, pp. 1-23.

6 Impact of Second Language on Intellectual Development

7 Genesee, F. & Gándara, P. (1999). Bilingual Education Programs: A Cross-National Perspective. Journal of Social Issues, 55(4), pp.665-685.

What is French Immersion?

French Immersion is a program offered in many public and catholic schools boards across the province designed to provide non-francophone students with a high degree of proficiency in French. There is no cost for French Immersion. Other than the addition of a French language class, students follow the same curriculum as those in the English stream, but 50% - 100% of the language of instruction is in French. French Immersion programs take place for the most part in dual-track schools, where there are students in the English stream, as well as those in the French Immersion stream. Some French Immersion programs take place in single-track schools where all students are in French Immersion.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Education French Immersion curriculum document, the principal aim of the French Immersion program is “to provide students with the skills they need to communicate in a second language, and thereby to enhance their ability to perform effectively and meet with success in a rapidly changing global economy”. The aim also includes “to develop strong fundamental skills in oral communication (listening and speaking), reading, and writing”. There is also a focus on building an understanding of the culture of French-speaking societies by integrating cultural study into the daily language instruction.1

For more information on French Immersion, please see: What is French Immersion?

1 Ministry of Education: French as a Second Language

How do I enrol my child in French Immersion?

Students, by default, are enroled in the English stream. In order to have your child enroled in French Immersion you usually must apply the year before the entry point. There are several entry points and they differ by school board. For Early French Immersion, the entry point is usually Senior Kindergarten or Grade 1. For Middle Immersion, the entry point is usually grade 4 or 5. For Late Immersion, the entry point is usually grade 7. Check with your local school board to see if they offer French Immersion, which immersion program(s) is/are offered, and what their specific entry point(s) is/are. Many school boards host French Immersion information nights for parents/guardians who are considering enrolling their child in French Immersion. These events usually take place in the winter-spring before the year your child would start French Immersion and are often advertised within schools and on school/school board websites.

To find your local school board please visit http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/sbinfo/

How can I prepare my child for French Immersion?

There is no expectation that the student will know any French prior to entering the program. There is also no expectation that the child’s family will know French. The following are things you can do with your child to help prepare them to learn in any language, help build their understanding and cognitive skills, and foster a positive and open attitude towards learning:

  • Read with your child in your home language every day or as frequently as possible

  • Provide lots of opportunity for your child to use oral language, responding to questions, asking questions and thinking out loud in their home language

  • Familiarize your child with the school and school procedures if they are new to the school

  • Create a positive learning environment, speaking positively about school and your child’s opportunity to learn French


For more information on how you can help prepare your child for French Immersion, as well as how you can support them throughout the program, please see Yes! You Can Help! by Alberta Learning or Tips for Parents by Alberta Education.

Is French Immersion for everyone?

French Immersion is open to everyone, though space is limited in some schools and school boards and therefore inquiring early (a year in advance of the entry point) is recommended. French Immersion is aimed at individuals who know little to no French and is accessible to students with diverse interests, needs, home languages, and abilities. The parent(s)/guardian(s) of those in French Immersion are in no way expected to know or learn French. Research has shown French Immersion to be a suitable option for students with diverse learning/behavioural difficulties, as well as for students whose home or first language is neither French nor English.1

1 Genessee, F. (2007). French Immersion and at-risk students: a review of research evidence. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 63(5), pp. 655-687.

My child does not speak English or speaks little English. Is s/he still eligible for French Immersion?

Yes. French Immersion (FI) is not just for Anglophone students, but aimed at any student who knows little or no French (also known as Allophone students). Often, FI is seen as an optimal program for Allophone students since no one in the class is expected to know French. Consequently, FI can offer a linguistic advantage over the English since every student in the class begins on a more or less from the same linguistic starting point and there is no English prerequisite to the content taught.1 Research has shown that Allophone students in French Immersion perform as well or even surpass the performance of their mainstream peers.2,3 Furthermore, in some situations an Allophone students’ home language gives them a clear advantage in FI over Anglophone students.4

1 Genesee, F. (2004). What do we know about bilingual education for majority language students. In T.K. Bhatia & W. Ritchie (Eds.), Handbook of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

2 Genesee, F. (2004). What do we know about bilingual education for majority language students. In T.K. Bhatia & W. Ritchie (Eds.), Handbook of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

3 Mady, C. (2007). Allophone students in French second-official-language programs: a literature review. The Canadian Modern Language Review, (63)5, pp. 727-760.

4 Swain, M., Lapkin, S., Rowen, N., & Hart, D. (1990). The Role of mother tongue literacy in third language learning. Language Culture and Curriculum, 3(1), pp. 65-81.

What is the difference between 50% and 100% French Immersion?

The percent of French language instruction time depends on the board and the grade. Some boards begin French Immersion in Senior Kindergarten or grade 1 with French being the language of instruction for 100% of the school day. That means that no subject is taught in English and that the child is fully immersed in French until English is introduced in a later grade, often grade 4. This option provides the most intense French experience and often produces more proficient students due to the increased exposure to the French language.

Why choose French Immersion?

Are there risks associated with learning an additional language or learning in an immersion program?

Some people are nervous or apprehensive about learning a new language or enrolling their child in an immersion program out of fear of overwhelming their child or impeding their child’s development in English and/or their home language (sometimes known as subtractive bilingualism, where the acquisition of one language comes at a cost to one’s proficiency in their first language). Some parents are also concerned that having to learn other subjects, such as math, in a new language might impede their progress in that area.

Research shows that the opposite often occurs, where learning a second language, in this case French, can actually help the student in their home or first language and that math skills are not negatively affected.1 A review of the research on immersion programs from 1972 to 2001 concludes that "the effect of learning a second language on first-language skills has been positive in all studies done. Furthermore, the loss of instructional time in English in favour of the second language has never been shown to have negative effects on the achievement of the first language."2

In fact, a 1991 review of student outcomes research showed that although French immersion students sometimes lag behind at Grade 3, they match and often surpass English program students' performance in English-language skills by Grade 4 or 5.

These studies also found that French immersion students met or exceeded English program students' performance in mathematics.

The Ontario Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) conducts province-wide assessments at the primary, junior and secondary levels to measure student achievement against curriculum expectations. The data collected is widely used as an additional tool to guide improvements in education at the individual, school and provincial levels. In 2000 researchers in Ontario reported that at Grade 3 "the performance of immersion and non-immersion students was broadly similar. Immersion students did somewhat better on literacy tests, but differences were small." By Grade 6, however, "students in immersion clearly outperformed those in the regular program on tests in both literacy and mathematics."3

1 Cummins, J. (1994). The Acquisition of English as a Second Language. In Spangenberg-Urbschat, K. and Pritchard, R. (eds) Reading Instruction for ESL Students Delaware: International Reading Association.

2 Report of Current Research on the Effect of Second Language learning on First Language Literacy Skills

3 Report of Current Research on the Effect of Second Language learning on First Language Literacy Skills

How will my child learn English?

In French Immersion programs that are 50/50, half of the time spent in school is in English, so both French and English literacy skills are developed simultaneously. For 100% French Immersion programs, English is usually introduced as a core subject by grade 4. While a student’s English skills may lag in the earlier grades, research shows that typically by the end of grade 6, Anglophone French Immersion students have “caught up” with their mainstream peers.1,2,3,4,5 In fact, research shows that a student’s first language can be positively influenced by learning a new language as literacy skills are transferable from one language to another.6 Several studies have indicated that French Immersion students can even surpass the performance of English students on standardized testing in reading and writing in English.7

For a balanced review of the research on literacy development and French Immersion, please see the Report of Current Research on the Effects of Second Language Learning on First Language Literacy Skills

by Monique Bournot-Trites and Ulrike Tallowitz.

1 St Pierre, L., Laign, D. & Morton, L. (1995). The Influence of French on the English spelling of children in Early French Immersion. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 51(2), 330-347.

2 Turnbull, M., Lapkin, S., & Hart, D. (2001). Grade 3 Immersion students’ performance in literacy and mathematics: province-wide results from Ontario (1998-99). Canadian Modern Language Review, 58(1), pp. 9-26.

3 Turnbull, M., Hart, D., & Lapkin, S. (2003). Grade 6 French Immersion students’ performance on large-scale reading, writing, and mathematics test: building explanations. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 49(1), pp. 6-23.

4 New Brunswick Department of Education. (2000). Report Card 2000: Anglophone School Districts. NB Department of Education.

5 Genesee, F. (2004). What do we know about bilingual education for majority language students. In T.K. Bhatia & W. Ritchie (Eds.), Handbook of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

6 Lapkin, S. (1982). The English writing skills of French Immersion pupils at grade 5. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 39(1), 24-33.

7 Does French Immersion improve reading achievement?

Will my child’s math skills suffer?

On the contrary, research has shown that students in French Immersion often perform as well as and in some cases even better than those in the mainstream English program on standardized testing in mathematics.1,2,3

Furthermore, some research has indicated that the more intensive the French program (the higher the percentage of French language instruction), the greater the chance of increased cognitive benefits leading to increased performance in math.4,5 French language programs offer the exact same curriculum as the English stream, with the sole difference being the language of instruction and the added proficiency in French upon graduation. Therefore, the math curriculum covered will be identical to the math curriculum covered in the English stream. Yes, the vocabulary will be different as the language of instruction is in French, but the concepts remain the same. For a French-English list of mathematic terms for French Immersion students from the EQAO website resources please see: French Immersion Glossary

1 Dubé, L. & MacFarlane, A. (1991). Middle Immersion: is it a better option than early or late? Immersion Journal, 14(3), pp. 21-27.

2 Turnbull, M., Lapkin, S., & Hart, D. (2001). Grade 3 Immersion students’ performance in literacy and mathematics: province-wide results from Ontario (1998-99). Canadian Modern Language Review, 58(1), pp. 9-26.

3 Turnbull, M., Hart, D., & Lapkin, S. (2003). Grade 6 French Immersion students’ performance on large-scale reading, writing, and mathematics test: building explanations. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 49(1), pp. 6-23.

4 Bournot-Trites, M. & Reeder, K. (2001). Interdependence revisited: mathematics achievement in an intensified French immersion program. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 58(1), pp. 27-43.

5 New Brunswick Department of Education. (2000). Report Card 2000: Anglophone School Districts. NB Department of Education.

Will my child learn the same subjects/content as those in the mainstream English program?

Yes. The curriculum covered in the French Immersion program is identical to the curriculum covered in the English stream, with the sole difference being the language of instruction and the intent that students in French language programs graduate with a higher level of proficiency in French. Throughout elementary school, students will take the Arts, English, Math, Physical Education and Health, Science, Social Studies, and the Arts, plus any electives or other classes specific to their school board/school.

Are students in French Immersion exempt from EQAO math and English literacy testing?

That depends. EQAO (Education Quality and Accountability Office) testing happens in grades 3, 6, 9, and 10. In grade 3, schools/school boards can choose to have their French Immersion (FI) students write only the mathematics test (in French) and exempt the FI students from the English reading and writing test. In grade 6, all students must write all tests in English, though they have available to them a bilingual glossary of math terms found here: French Immersion Glossary In grade 9, students write the Grade 9 Assessment of mathematics and in grade 10 they write the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). Both are written in English.

The results of the grade 3 and 6 tests are not counted as part of the students mark in school, nor can they affect the student’s progress or future opportunities in school. The grade 9 math test can count for up to 10% of the student’s math mark (cheque with your school). Students must pass the grade 10 OSSLT or the Literacy course in order to graduate high school with an Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

According to their website, EQAO is “an independent agency of the Ontario government. EQAO provides accurate, objective and clear information about student achievement and the quality of publicly funded education in Ontario. In addition, EQAO works to ensure that this information is used to bring about improvement for individual students and for the education system as a whole.”1

1 See http://www.eqao.com/AboutEQAO/GeneralQuestions.aspx?Lang=E

What is Core French?

Core French, often referred to as basic French, is a mandated program in Ontario from Grade 4 to Grade 9, meaning that all students in the public/catholic system will take Core French as part of their education.1 A student in Core French will receive a total of 600 hours of French instructional time in elementary school and one high school credit in Grade 9.


1 Note: some students who are English Language Learners may be exempt from some or all of the mandated French courses. Check with your local school for more details.

What is Intensive Core French?

Intensive Core French is currently being offered in eight Grade 5 classrooms in Ontario as a pilot program. Children in this program will experience an intensive period of French instruction for one half of the school year. They will receive approximately 952.5 accumulated hours of French instructional time in elementary school, one mandated credit in Grade 9 plus the option of three elective credits in secondary school.


For more information on Intensive Core French please see: INTENSIVE CORE FRENCH

My child has a learning disability. Is s/he still eligible for French Immersion?

Yes. French Immersion programs are open to all students, regardless of learning disability, exceptionality, or behavioural difficulties. Students with diverse needs and abilities are found in all classes in all programs. Moreover, students from a range of academic abilities can and do excel in French Immersion/Extended French.1 Since French language programs often rely on more visual and paralinguistic modes of communication (gestures, etc.), some students may benefit from the added forms of communication and can often thrive in the French Immersion/Extended French environment. Since learning disabilities, cognitive disabilities, and behavioural difficulties are pervasive, in that they exist regardless of the language of instruction, students are not more likely to struggle in French Immersion than they would in an English-only program. For example, a student who is exhibiting difficulties reading in French is more likely to be experiencing trouble with literacy skills, not with the French itself, and would likely experience these same difficulties in an English program. The key is that the student receives the supports required for their success, which includes open communication between the student, parent(s), teacher(s), administration, and specialists (if necessary), regardless of the language of instruction.


Oftentimes, adult (including parents, teachers, and administrators) attitudes and expectations are more limiting than the student’s ability to learn and learn in French.2

1 Genesee, F. (2004). What do we know about bilingual education for majority language students. In T.K. Bhatia & W. Ritchie (Eds.), Handbook of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

2 McColl, H. (2005). Foreign language learning and inclusion: who? why? what? – and how?. Support for Learning, 20(3), pp. 103-108.

Should a child ever be transferred out of French Immersion?

Except in unusual circumstances, transferring a child out of immersion is generally not advisable. Performing below grade level or grade average is not a valid reason for transferring your child out of the program. In all likelihood the child would not be performing much better if he or she were in an non-immersion program.1

Transferring a child out of French immersion should be a decision that is made first of all by parents in consultation with the immersion staff. Especially at the elementary level, a school-based team generally made up of the French immersion teacher, the English teacher, the counsellor and the learning assistance teacher may provide you with guidance on this issue.

Please remember that in the English stream, where there is no alternative, the child with learning difficulties must stay in his/her program. The existence of this option of transferring the child out of immersion sometimes sometimes encourages a parent to transfer the child too hastily. A transfer out of the program may lead to reduced self-esteem or stress for the student, a feeling of failure. Apart from some extreme cases, children with learning difficulties should not be denied the right and privilege of becoming bilingual and also should be able to draw satisfaction and pride from understanding and speaking two world languages.

1 Genessee, F. (2007). French Immersion and at-risk students: a review of research evidence. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 63(5), pp. 655-687.

Is there learning assistance in French Immersion?

The level of learning assistance, whether in non-immersion or French immersion programs, varies from school board to school board, and can even vary from school to school. Depending on the available resources, children who are in need of learning assistance in French immersion should normally receive the same level of help that is available in the English stream.

What is extended French?

In an extended French program students study some subjects, such as history or geography, in French together with their regular French class. Extended French programs must provide a minimum of 1260 hours of French instruction by the end of Grade 8. By the end of grade 12, a student must have a minimum of 2030 hours to qualify for a extended French certificate.

How does extended French differ from core French and French immersion?

Extended French and French immersion are programs which not only teach French as a subject but also serve as the language of instruction in other subjects. Core French is the study of the subject French. The extended French program is not as rigorous as French immersion. Core French students only have to take 600 hours of French by the end of grade 8. French immersion students have to take a minimum of 3800 hours. Extended French is sometimes seen as a middle-point between core and immersion.


Extended French has more similarities with French immersion than core French. Core French students only have to take one French course a year that focuses entirely on studying the French language. Extended French and French immersion students are required to take additional courses in French, such as history or geography.

Do all school boards offer an extended French program?

Not all school boards offer extended French. Parents interested in enrolling their children in this program should contact their local school board to see if this program is available.

When does extended French begin?

This differs with each individual school board. Parents should contact their school board to obtain more information.

What happens in an extended French classroom?

Extended French students learn three areas of language use: oral communication, reading and writing. Students must learn to understand and communicate in French; the ability to understand different kinds of literature; and the basics in spelling and grammar.

How can parents help their children?

Even if they do not speak or understand French, parents still have an important role to play in supporting their child's learning. Parents should discuss their children's work with them, communicate regularly with their teacher and read to them in English or in their mother tongue.


There are other ways in which parents can assist their children. Participating in parent conferences, working on the school council and encouraging their children to complete assignments at home and pursue opportunities outside the classroom to extend their skills in French are just a few examples.

What can I do to help my child with homework?

Many parents either have a limited background in French or do not speak the language at all. If this is the case, please don't feel alarmed. French Immersion programs are designed for students and families who do not speak or speak very little French. The most important thing you can do to help your child is to provide encouragement and positive support. You should make homework a top priority at home. Each school board has their own homework policy which sets out the quantity and allotted amount of time for homework, but on average assignments should take no more than 30 minutes to complete each night at the elementary level. Almost all school boards recommend that you read at least 15 minutes per day with your child (or encourage them to read independently). You should provide necessary school supplies, a time period set aside everyday for homework and a quiet environment for them to engage in their studies.

Do not hesitate to contact your French Immersion teacher if you notice a problem or have questions. You and your child's teacher must work together as a team. The secret to building and maintaining this relationship is through communication. Remember, if your child is having problems in the French Immersion program, they would probably be having the same problems in the English Program.1 Find out what these problems are with your child's teacher and address them immediately.

French immersion parents can help with homework too. Numerous studies have shown that parents influence a child’s attitude towards homework. If homework is seen as an arduous task (eg. a punishment for not finishing in class), it will become a negative experience. Parents should encourage a positive attitude towards homework. If you are positive, they will be more likely to enjoy the experience of a second language.

1 Genessee, F. (2007). French Immersion and at-risk students: a review of research evidence. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 63(5), pp. 655-687.

What can parents do?

1. You can start by establishing a good rapport with your child's immersion teacher. Discuss with the teacher and the child the reason for homework. Most teachers will have an information session on this subject at the beginning of the year. Ask your teacher about the amount and the content of homework your child will receive. For the Ontario Ministry

2. Ensure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to work. This place should be far away from the TV and other distractions.

3. Treat homework as your child's responsibility and provide assistance if necessary. Also encourage your child to use the dictionary.

4. At home, your child should feel free to read for pleasure in French and English. They should also be encouraged to talk about his/her experiences at school. Showing interest in what your child is doing at school, as well as providing encouragement and support, is of the utmost importance.

5. For example, you can help by sitting with your child and encouraging him/her to complete their work. This will help your child in the short and long run. It is particularly easy to work with your child in math, social studies, science or art because they can be done in English at home.

6. Discuss with your child the rules of studying and homework. Lay down the rules and consequences for poorly done or incomplete homework. Know the teachers rules and try to reinforce them.

7. Set a regular period for homework to be completed. Reinforce the fact that if the homework is completed first, the rest of the day/evening is theirs.

8. Be interested in the work your child has accomplished. Develop a system for remembering assignments and test dates so you can both plan for them.

For more information on how you can help prepare your child for French Immersion, as well as how you can support them throughout the program, please see Yes! You Can Help! by Alberta Learning or Tips for Parents by Alberta Education.

How can I get the most from parent-teacher conferences?

Think about what you want to learn from the meeting. Write down a list of your questions and comments; don't rely on your memory! Some examples could be:

• What is meant by _______?

• How much homework is expected?

• What testing methods are used?

• Have there been any incidents at school involving my child?

• Does he/she have good work habits?

• Are there any missing homework assignments?

• What do you see as his/her strengths and weaknesses?

• How well does he/she work with other students?

• Did you know he/she is especially interested in ______?

• Is extra help available? What can I do at home to support his learning?

If you are not sure of what the teacher means, ask questions. If there is not enough time to discuss everything that you think is important, make another appointment with the teacher.

Discuss this conference with your child. Talk about both his/her strong and weak points in school. If he/she needs help, talk about what will be done to provide this assistance, or what you can do together. Remember that teachers are human too! Some teachers get even more nervous about these meetings than parents do. Always remember that your objective is for you and the teacher to become partners in supporting your child's education.

But most of all BE POSITIVE! Let your child know that your role is not to police homework, but to help them to complete assignments properly and on time.

Parents who read to their children at home improve their child's vocabulary and comprehension skills. They also indicate to their children that reading can also be fun and is a lifelong skill!