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French Immersion

The Program of Studies for the Early French Immersion program is established by Alberta Education and supported by Red Deer Public Schools.  Students in French Immersion are expected to reach the same learner outcomes as children in the English program, while at the same time gaining dual-language proficiency. 

In Kindergarten, the teacher addresses the class in French most of the time, although the children continue to use English among themselves.  By the end of the year, children are able to recognize a large number of French words and attempt to use single words and short phrases.

In Grades 1 and 2, 90% of instruction is given in French; the remaning 10% is allocated to informal English speaking and listening.  In Grades 3 through 5, 80% of instruction is given in French, with the remaining 20% committed to the formal study of English reading, writing, speaking and listening.

French Immersion FAQs

Does the teachers speak all in French?

Initially in kindergarten the teacher speaks a mixture of French and English.  Routines such as greetings, calendars, standard teacher expectations (such as come to the carpet, choose a centre) are taught immediately and then said exclusively in French.  Throughout the year, the amount of French that the teacher uses, increases. The same occurs in Grade One and, by January or February, the teacher is speaking virtually all in French. Amazingly, the children understand!

What if the parents do not speak French?

French Immersion is a program designed for English-speaking children whose parents do not speak French. Most parents of French Immersion students do not speak French.

Will my children be behind their friends in the English program?

French Immersion students learn to read in French in grades one and two.  They are introduced to reading in English in grade three.  Parents are sometimes concerned that their children will be behind in reading and writing in English.  Research shows (and so does our experience) that the French Immersion students are reading and writing at about the same level as their English program friends by the end of grade 3.  As a matter of fact, they write the same English Language Arts Provincial Achievement Tests as all the other grade three children. The concept of reading (individual sound/letter correspondence, blending sounds, tracking left to right, sight words etc.) is the same in French and English so once children learn the concept, learning to do it in their first language is much easier than learning to read initially.  Reading skills (such as context clues, prediction, main idea etc.) and writing skills (such as sentence structure, punctuation, paragraph construction etc.) are virtually the same in both languages.

Can my child take French Immersion all the way to Grade 12?

Yes, children in Red Deer Public have the opportunity to graduate with a bilingual certificate.  Currently, Central Middle School and Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School both offer the continuation of French Immersion.

7 Reasons for Choosing French Immersion

1. There is great value in learning a second language.

The value of knowing a second language is widely acknowledged.  It opens doors in the world of business, higher education, and travel, while at the same time broadening one’s understanding of other nationalities and cultures. Furthermore, second language facility reinforces understanding of one’s first language and equips many to then learn even a third language.

2. Immersion is the most effective method known for learning a second language.

Early French Immersion works so well because a young child loves mimicry, memorization and repetition. Children enrolled in the French Immersion program “get the best of both worlds”, proficiency in both the English and French languages. After elementary school, the French Immersion program continues in grades 6 – 12, thus enabling students to continue the development of their skills in two languages.

3.  In addition to learning the French language, Immersion students continue to master English and all other subjects in the curriculum.

We are concerned not only about your child’s progress in French, but also ensure that your child’s program of studies in English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and other subjects is second to none.  French Immersion students have consistently scored as well or better than other students on provincial achievement tests in all subject areas, while becoming proficient in a second language at the same time. Although formal English instruction does not begin until Grade Three, the transfer of skills and knowledge from French to English is very rapid, enabling Immersion students to quickly “catch up” in their English language studies.

4. French Immersion is suitable for a broad range of students.

Because of the way in which children learn French through Immersion, it need not be restricted to “bright” children only.  Children who possess at least average skills, for their age, in their native language are well-suited for French Immersion.  On the other hand, there are some children for whom Immersion may not be a suitable program.  You are invited to contact the Immersion staff if you have any questions or concerns regarding the suitability of the program for your child.

5. It is not necessary for parents to know French language in order for their children to be successful.

Most Immersion parents have either a limited knowledge of French ("I took it in high school but can’t remember anything.") or have no working knowledge at all.  Through the use of classroom instruction, additional assistance from the Resource teacher, and volunteer helpers, Immersion students have access to all possible forms of help and support.  Furthermore, Immersion teachers will provide pointers to parents, particularly in the early years, so that they can help their child with homework in the French language. Parents can also help at home by doing all of the regular things: reading to their child in English, visiting the public library, going on family outings, enrolling their child in music lessons, ensuring that homework is completed, and communicating regularly with the teacher.  Enrolling children in a French Immersion program also provides an ideal opportunity for parents to begin or expand their own knowledge of French, thus providing an additional vehicle for helping their children with French studies.

6. Convenient transportation and child care are readily available.

Many French Immersion students live within the school’s established walk limits.  For those who do not, free bus or cab transportation (for grades 1 – 5) is available from the Red Deer neighborhoods of Garden Heights, Clearview Ridge, Clearview Extension, Timberstone, Vanier Woods, Vanier East and Laredo.  Your child will be picked up at or near your home each morning, dropped off at the school doors, and returned again each afternoon.

A supervised lunch program exists within the school and the Red Deer Child Care Society operates a Before–and-After School Care Program for those families who require additional child care.

7. There are no additional fees for the French Immersion program.

The cost to parents is the same for children in French Immersion as for children in the regular English program.

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