Click on the links below for frequently asked questions about French immersion. For shorter, printable version of the FAQs, click here
Saskatoon Public Schools' French immersion program is designed for students whose first language is not French. Parents do not need to speak French in order to enrol their children in French immersion — most parents have little or no French language skills. Although French is the language in the classroom, communication between school and home is in English. Throughout your child’s immersion schooling, you can count on assistance from their teachers. When portions of the program are conducted in English, parents can be of direct assistance and support.
From the early stages of the program, parents can support their child’s education in French immersion. Good development of oral and listening skills in your child’s first language will be a good foundation for learning a second language. You are encouraged to read regularly to your children in English and/or their home language, which will develop your child’s English/home language vocabulary and develop their self-confidence.
Your encouragement and interest will motivate your child to be successful in the new language. Here are some additional things you can do:
- Encourage your child to use French outside of the classroom, which reinforces your child’s learning and can help develop an appreciation for the language.
- Ask about their new experiences in the French classroom. You might ask them about new words they’re learning or how they feel about using French.
- Listen when they read French books.
- Support doing activities in French, such as watching French television, listening to French podcasts or French media.
- Expose your child to French outside of school through participation in French arts and cultural events in your community. This could be at a public library or in a summer camp, play, musical or exchange.
There are many research-supported advantages to learning another language. Here are just a few:
- Language learning has a positive impact on the development of general thinking skills of learners, such as solving problems, multitasking and remembering longer lists of information.
- Second language learners often show stronger spelling ability, as well as better reading comprehension.
- Your child’s understanding of, and respect for, other people, languages and cultures will increase.
- Second language learners demonstrate greater empathy, awareness of diversity, tolerance of difference and a greater sense of social justice.
- Second-language skills afford individuals greater opportunity in both local and international job markets.
It is recommended that students enter the program in kindergarten or Grade 1. This is because the foundations of the French language are established early in these primary grades. Early enrolment in this program provides the best opportunity for student success.
Yes! Children have the ability to learn multiple languages simultaneously. Support for English as an Additional Language is available to French immersion students in Grade 3 when English language arts is taught and if it is deemed necessary at that time.
Children in French immersion learn to speak French in much the same way they learn their maternal language. They listen and imitate before starting to talk on their own. In the beginning, children start speaking quickly by using individual words, then by using phrases. By the end of the year, many students are communicating with the teacher about school-related activities and age-appropriate experiences using acquired basic French vocabulary and sentence structure. Children pass through these stages at different rates.
Your child will receive formal English language arts instruction in Grade 3. The percentage of time spent in English gradually increases with each subsequent grade.
This does not mean your child will not read in English until they are in Grade 3. As a French immersion primary student, your child will be taught reading skills such as letter-sound correspondence, reading left to right, understanding concepts of print, decoding, punctuation, prediction and visualization. Literacy skills continue to be developed in French each year. All these skills can transfer from reading in French to reading in English. Many children will be reading in English before Grade 3. While children may experience a brief lag in English reading and writing, French immersion students normally “catch up” to their peers in the English program by the end of Grade 5. Learning a second language, in fact, supports first language learning. The best way for you to help your child is by reading with them and talking about the stories in your home language.
If you are concerned your child is experiencing difficulties, you should let the classroom teacher know so that together you can discuss what can be done to help your child’s learning. Most children encounter challenges from time to time, but if your child is worried, frustrated or expresses a concern about learning French, it could be the sign of an underlying problem that should be resolved as soon as possible. Children progress at different rates and learn in different ways, so teachers plan instruction and assessment taking into consideration the students’ interests, learning strengths, and previously acquired knowledge and skills. With appropriate support, your child can be successful in French.
- Talk to your child — listening and speaking are a child’s first introduction to language.
- Establish a reading time and read every day.
- Read aloud to your child regularly.
- Set an example and let your child see you read.
- Talk about books — discussing a story or a book with your child helps them understand the story and connects it to their own experiences.
- Show an interest in the books your child brings home.
- Listen to your child read and give specific praise about what your child is doing well.
- Make reading fun.
Free busing may be available for students leaving their home neighbourhoods to attend the elementary French immersion program in their area. Click on the map to see which school provides French immersion programming for your neighbourhood. Please contact the school for details.
Yes. Your child can begin the program in kindergarten and continue through Grade 12.