Supporting Your Child's Success in French Immersion and Extended French - Parent Guide
What is French Immersion?
French Immersion is a program offered nationally for children from primarily English speaking backgrounds. Its purpose is to provide students with the opportunity to learn a second language of instruction and classroom communication, not a separate subject studied in isolation of other subjects. Neither the child entering the program nor his/her parents need to have any knowledge of the French language or culture. The French Immersion Program offered by the Lambton Kent District School Board begins at the Junior Kindergarten level and continues to the end of secondary school.
Why French Immersion?
According to the research, the best age for beginning the continuous learning of a second language is 4 to 8 years old. Due to the number of hours a child is exposed to French in the Early Immersion Program, it is expected that he/she will attain a native like fluency by the completion of his/her elementary grades. Additionally, studies show that Immersion students do as well as, if not better than, their English counterparts in Mathematics, Science and Language skills; job and travel opportunities are broadened and they have a wide appreciation for cultural differences.
Are there competent teachers to teach French Immersion?
Yes. Specific programs to train Immersion teachers are available at Faculties of Education. The Association Canadienne des Professeurs d'Immersion (ACPI) provides professional development opportunities for teachers of French Immersion, as does the Lambton Kent Program Department.
Will my child be getting the same program as he/she would in the English classes?
Yes. French Immersion programs follow the same Ontario Curriculum that is mandated by the Ministry of Education and Training.
Shouldn't some sort of screening take place?
The only children found to be very poor candidates for Immersion are those with a poor sense of auditory discrimination or auditory memory. Attempts are made to identify these pupils as early as possible.
Will French Immersion affect my child's social development?
Studies have proven that early Immersion students suffer no intellectual, emotional, or social impairment. While they might tend to associate more with their classmates on the playground, this is typical of all children. They develop the same sense of Canadian identity as do children in the regular program.
Will my child's English suffer?
McGill's Dr. Lambert says "pupils appear to be able to read, write, speak, understand and use English as well as youngsters instructed via English in the conventional manner. In addition, at no cost, they can also read, write, speak and understand French in a way that English pupils who follow traditional second-language teaching methods never do.
Junior & Senior Kindergarten
In junior Kindergarten and Senior Kindergarten, the language of instruction is French. The children's introduction to the Early Immersion Program is "gentle", in that they continue to express themselves in English at this level - only the teacher speaks French. This builds listening comprehension in French so that when academic content is introduced in Grade 1, the children have little difficulty following what is going on. Basic vocabulary is taught through the use of rhymes, songs, short stories and play acting.
All instruction , including reading, writing and mathematics is in French. Speaking skills receive greater emphasis and the children are increasingly able to express themselves in French.
English language studies are introduced in Grade 3 for 50% of the instructional time. Specific study areas are designated for English or French Instruction.
At the secondary level, students in the French Immersion program take one third of their course requirements in French. Upon successful completion of the program, they are granted a Certificate in French Immersion Studies.
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Visit the Lambton Kent Web Site
for more information on its French Immersion Program and Homework Help.