The French Program in Ontario

The French Program

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What is the French program in Ontario?

French programs are offered through public Catholic, public, and French school systems. In Ontario, there are three streams of French programs in which your child can be enrolled. In addition, these are offered throughout their elementary and secondary school education. This blog will dive into them as: French Immersion program, Middle French Immersion program and Core French program. All three of these options are offered in the public sectors. You can also consider French schools to provide your child with a more immersive French learning experience. The best part is that all of these options are FREE! In this blog, you will learn about the variety of French programs offered in Ontario and how you can support your child in the language learning journey.

(Early) French Immersion Program

You want your child to learn French. Fantastique! Depending on the school board, your child can begin the French Immersion program in Junior Kindergarten, Senior Kindergarten or Grade 1. You can sign your child up for this program as early as 3 years old! The teacher starts the program by communicating in French and English. This allows for the students to make connections between the two languages. As students progress, both the teacher and the students will communicate exclusively in French. This program helps develop French comprehension in the following strands: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. All subjects, including math and science, are in French until Grade 4. Between Grades 4-8, students will transition to 50% of their courses in French.

At the high school level, students need to complete a minimum number of 10 French credits to qualify for a Certificate of Bilingual Studies. Students who complete 11 or more French credits will qualify for an Honours Certificate of Bilingual Studies. 

Middle French Immersion Program 

Missed the opportunity to apply for the French Immersion Program? You got another option! The Middle French Immersion Program changed it’s name throughout the years, with Late Immersion and Extended French being the most common. Moreover, what do all of these programs have in common? They are all French programs who begin in Grade 4 or later. The Middle French Immersion programs is the new phase of late entry French program as the other programs are being phased out. Not all school boards offer the Middle French Immersion program. However, as the demand for the French Immersion program continues to grow, we believe the Middle French Immersion program is to become increasingly more common. 

Application Process

Students must apply for the Middle French Immersion program in Grade 3. The Middle French Immersion program begins in Grade 4 where students take 100% of their courses in French between Grades 4-5. In Grade 6, students transition to 75% of their courses offered in French up until Grade 8. The Middle French Immersion program is great if you want your child to learn English before focusing on learning a new language. In turn, there is a learning curve as students are switch from a full-day of English to a full-day of French. Students learn new course material and a new language simultaneously. Similar to the French Immersion program, high school students in this program would need a minimum of 10 credits to graduate with a Certificate of Bilingual Studies.

Do you live far away from a school that offers a French program? You’re in luck! The school board provides transportation subsidies. This is through free public transit tickets or school bus shuttles to children in the French Immersion or Middle French Immersion program attending a school outside of their neighborhood, .

Core French

Did you know that all Ontario students learn French at school? Students will complete one French language class from Grade 4 to 9. Depending on the school board, students may be exempted from this requirement due to their unique circumstances. However, there are some school boards who offer Core French at an earlier grade if they are situated in a bilingual or francophone community. After Grade 9, students can choose to take French as an elective. 

French Schools

French schools are quite simple – the school operates in French! You can sign up your child as early as Junior Kindergarten. Every course is in French at a French school, with the exception of English, for their entire school experience. Most of the correspondences to parents/guardians are delivered in French. Therefore, it is recommended to have at least one parent/guardian who is functional in French to read, understand, and communicate with the school. This is the most extensive French learning option offered by public schools. There are limited spaces to enroll and priority is given to students who live close to the school. Find out if there is a French school located near you!

Which program is right for you? 

Now you might be thinking, which option best suits your child? The French Immersion program, Middle French Immersion program, and French school options all have amazing benefits. To summarize, French schools are best suited for a child who has parents/guardian or relative who can read and understand French correspondences. However, the French Immersion and Middle Immersion programs are located at English-speaking schools where you are not obligated to speak French.

We only have one reflection question for you: How important is it for you to have a child who is bilingual? Some people see the benefits of learning French early to develop fluency. Others prefer that their child understands English first before learning a new language. There is no wrong answer when you take the time to make a decision that best suits your values. If you would like to discuss further on which option best suits you and your child, please pencil a time that works for you here.

Resources for Anglophone and Francophone Parents/Guardians 

So you have decided to say oui to enrolling your child into a French program. Merci! Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t speak French. There are many ways that you can support your child with their French learning. Further from reading a French book to listening to French music, there are a number of things you can do to join the French fun! Want to find French books for your child? Check out this online French bookstore to start integrating French at home today!  

Here are some tips on how to support your child of their French learning journey: 

Immerse yourself in French

There are many TV shows, programs, radio stations, podcasts and movies that are available in French. In the end, learning French is not just about getting a job but expanding our capacity to connect with others! 

Duolingo

Duolingo is an app where you can learn French at your own pace! Moreover, you can play Duolingo online with your child. From short stories to language games, Duolingo offers a variety of options for users to develop their reading, writing, listening, and speaking abilities. Some friendly competition within the family helps increase your child’s motivation to continue learning French! There are also exciting intermediate level podcasts where the narrator speaks in English and in French. This means that everyone can follow along with the podcast on a family car ride! Duolingo podcasts are real life stories derived from French-speaking communities around the world. This is an amazing option to explore for some French family fun!

Facilitate French Conversations with Family Members 

Encourage any friends or family who speak French to strike up a conversation with your child! When siblings are in a French language program, they can speak to each other in French at home to practice. After all, the goal is for students to use their French outside of the classroom so why not start at home?  

Canadian Parents for French

Canadian Parents for French (CPF) is an organization who provides many resources from parents of students learning French. On their website, you can find resources for non-French speaking parents to learn more about how to support your child in a French program. CPF offers many unique programs, opportunities and contests for children to speak in French outside of the classroom! 

French Tutoring 

With large classroom sizes and limited resources, you might find that your child needs more hands-on help. At Roots to Routes Academy, we offer tutoring programs for all students in the French Immersion program and in a French school. Our tutors are qualified teachers and have experience teaching French. With our one-on-one sessions and holistic approach, students are now equipped to tackle French at their school!


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    Benefits of Extracurricular Experiences

    Learning a language allows you to immerse yourself in cultures and societies all over the world and diminish cultural barriers when traveling. We recognize that traveling the world is not financially feasible for everybody. However, there are programs that can help your child learn French in an authentic French environment at an affordable cost. 

    The Explore Program

    The Explore program is fully funded by the Canadian government and offers programs for students ages 13 and up. Students have the opportunity to do a spring or summer exchange where they will live in a French-speaking community in Canada. In these communities, students are fully immersed as they interact with other French speakers in the region. The best part of this experience is that most – if not all – of the program by the Canadian government! 

    YES / EF Tours

    YES and EF Tours provide travel exchange programs where students can either stay with a host family or stay at a dorm in a foreign country. Also, there’s option of receiving an exchange student from abroad where your child can communicate with a foreigner their age in French. In addition to immersing yourself in French a speaking country, it will help your child improve their fluency and understanding of the culture! As students interact with native speakers, your child will have the opportunity to become more confident in their French language skills. Moreover, they will also gain a broader perspective of the world. 

    Roots to Routes Academy

    Our high school credit programs is accessible to all Ontario secondary students interested in obtaining a credit towards their Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Students can enjoy our programs while remaining fully enrolled in their respective school!

    Students are provided profound knowledge of their course subjects through engaging course content and unforgettable travel experiences. We believe students taking courses outside of the classroom and into the world helps them connect with their roots while building new cultural connections.

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