French Immersion is a made-in-Canada educational program for children (and their families) whose first language is not French. Initially conceived to promote Canada wide bilingualism, French Immersion programs have now been offered in all provinces and territories for over 40 years.
The French Immersion and standard BC English elementary curriculums are the same as defined by the Ministry of Education. The only differences are that in French Immersion the instruction is entirely in French and English language arts (reading, spelling, etc.) begin by Grade 4. While this means that French Immersion students may be reading English later than their peers in a standard English program, the process of learning to read and write in English may be easier because of transferable learning skills. Generally, students are fluently reading and writing in both languages around Grade 4-6. Children in French Immersion programs score as well or better on standardized English tests than children studying in traditional schools.
Early French Immersion is generally regarded as one of the most effective ways for a child to become bilingual. Children are more receptive to language learning at an early age – learning French can be a more “natural” process for primary-aged children. As well, earlier language-learning usually allows a child to develop native-like pronunciation.
Parents do not need to speak French for their child to be successful in the program. Involvement in a child’s learning can take many forms. Parents can encourage their child to learn French by reinforcing the value of learning a second language and providing opportunities to hear, read and speak French in other situations (listening to French music, reading French books, eating at a French restaurant, going on a student exchange to Quebec, etc.). Ongoing parent-teacher communication (in English) and collaboration are key elements of Éco-Immersion. As well, there will be various resources available for homework support, language support, and general involvement – including parent groups, online help, and local evening French classes for adults.
Choosing French Immersion for your child is a great way to explore your child’s potential.
Research shows that students who take French Immersion:
Improve their problem solving and creative thinking skills
Enhance their ability to learn English, other languages and subjects
Score as well or better on standardized English tests than children studying in English schools
Broaden their career and educational opportunities