Everything You Need to Know About French Immersion at Edmonton Catholic Schools

Deciding on an educational path for your child can be overwhelming for many parents. There are a multitude of choices available to families but one of the most valuable and enriching options for children are immersion programs. French is obviously at the top of the list for many and at Edmonton Catholic Schools, we offer French Immersion programs from Kindergarten to Grade 12 at 13 schools across the city. 

What Does French Immersion Look Like at Edmonton Catholic Schools?

The uniqueness of Edmonton Catholic Schools’ French Immersion Program lies in our longstanding commitment to and tradition of promoting Canada’s official languages through a variety of program settings. 

Students may register in the program in Kindergarten or Grade 1. At the Elementary level, the language of instruction for all subjects except Religion is French. Beginning in Grade 2, students also have regular English Language Arts classes. At the Junior and Senior High level, students receive between 40% and 80% of their instruction in French, depending on the program selected. Particular attention is given to developing an appreciation of the French culture by offering annual cultural events and/or entertainment.

What are Some of the benefits of French Immersion?

Learning a second language has a number of positive effects on children:

  • First and foremost, French Immersion enhances a student’s academic growth and encourages new ways of thinking. They develop multiple pathways for finding information.
    • As a result of this, French Immersion also has the benefit of helping students learn other languages in the future and can even strengthen help improve English language skills
  • French immersion can offer more future successes for children, as they are faced with challenges related to language and vocabulary daily and learn to take risks in a safe and caring environment that will provide the opportunity for them to be successful 
  • French Immersion also helps enrich a child’s cultural experiences, increasing their appreciation of other languages and cultures and offers more opportunities for travel
  • It allows future opportunities for children including the ability to compete internationally for further education 
    • There are a number of scholarship and educational opportunities available specifically for French immersion students
  • There’s also the employability factor of acquiring French as a second language, as it can give students an edge in the job market
    • Government jobs are a great example of this

What if French is not Spoken at Home?

The French Immersion program is specifically designed for non-native speakers, while enriching and complementing a child’s first language. The program was built on the foundation of giving English speaking students the opportunity to become bilingual. First and foremost, the best thing parents can do to help support their child’s learning is to read to their children in their native language. Vocabulary, syntax and other reading related skills are transferable skills across languages!

While students may receive homework, all assignments are setup with the understanding that there aren’t the same supports available at home as there are in the classroom and are specifically tailored with that in mind. Any at home exercises are started in class with a teacher available to guide them through. Homework clubs can also be available at lunch our or recess to also help support students that might need a little extra help.

Are There any Supports for Parents?

Because the program is specifically designed for non-native speakers, parents of students in French immersion are not alone – they have the support and help of all the families in the school! 

Many of our schools also work closely with Canadian Parents for French, a non-profit organization that helps support parents of children in French Immersion. This can include monthly meet-ups at local restaurants or coffee shops or web-related activities and resources.

Furthermore, Edmonton Catholic’s French Immersion schools offer a number of opportunities for parents to get involved in their children’s education within the school. 

School councils, for example, are very involved in supporting the children in the school. They can offer a variety of resources including parent engagement evenings, which may identify specific subjects that many parents are struggling with. 

There are also several opportunities to volunteer throughout the school and get involved in the culture.  Volunteering for Carnavale, for example, is a great way to immerse yourself in the French culture!

Web-based supports may also be available through virtual classroom, so parents can access their children’s textbooks, view videos, and other online resources might be available and are all trackable for the student’s teachers.

This post has been sponsored by Edmonton Catholic Schools. You can learn more about Edmonton French Immersion programming at www.ecsd.net.