Late French Immersion
Saskatoon Public Schools is Saskatchewan’s only school division to offer Late French Immersion (LFI). LFI is an intensive two-year program starting in the beginning of grade 6 and finishing at the end of grade 7. Students interested in LFI are not required to have any French language competencies. During the program, students are fully immersed and learn the foundations of the French language using their established thinking and learning skills. At first, students focus on French language acquisition with a reduced emphasis on subject content. Once a sufficient language base has been acquired, they continue to expand their language proficiency while learning content from all subject areas. In the LFI program, students develop the ability to listen, speak, read and write in French. All subject areas in the program are taught in French except for English Language Arts. Once students complete the LFI program, they are encouraged to join the early immersion cohort to form one cohesive class in grade 8 and to pursue their studies until the end of grade 12 in French Immersion so that they may receive a bilingual mention on their high school diploma.
There are many different reasons why families consider accessing the late immersion program. Due to its structure, LFI is the optimal program to allow students to access to a French Immersion program after the kindergarten entrance point. Some parents prefer to have their children develop a solid foundation in English or an alternate mother tongue prior to undertaking French Immersion programming (Cloud, Genesee, & Hamayan, 2009). Others, prefer to wait until their children are old enough and sufficiently mature to make the decision to learn a second language on their own. Access to school bus transportation, access to schools offering the program and the number of students in the program are also factors that impact families’ decision to selecting the program. LFI is not comparable to Intensive French due to the fact that the instructional hours are far greater in the LFI program.
Timeline of Late French Immersion Programming in Saskatoon Public Schools
- In 2009, Saskatoon Public Schools launched the LFI programming with a grade 6 cohort at École Lakeview (ÉLKVS) School and École Henry Kelsey (ÉHK)
- In 2011, a grade 6 cohort was launched at École River Heights School (ÉRHS) and the first graduates of LFI program at ÉLKVS and ÉHK joined early immersion students in grade 8 French Immersion classrooms
- In 2012, the LFI program was closed at ÉRHS
- In 2013, the LFI grade 6 cohort was moved from ÉLKVS to École College Park School (ÉCPS) and the ÉLVKS LFI program was scheduled to be closed once the grade 7 cohort completed the second year of the program
- In 2014, LFI programming is still offered at ÉCPS and ÉHK.
- In 2016, the first LFI students will graduate from Saskatoon Public School collegiates
Benefits of Late French Immersion
- Offers the opportunity for students to make the independent decision to study French which increases motivation
- Offers the opportunity for late arriving students who have not previously studied in French Immersion to have the same access as their peers
- Offers the opportunity to develop a strong foundation in their first language before adding a second language ensuring strong academic skills in both languages
- Develops cognitive and social skills, strategies to better understand known languages and prepares a person to learn other languages
- Exposes and develops understanding of French-speaking communities and cultures as well as their own and those of others
- Develops language learning, critical thinking skills, oral and written expression in students
- Prepares a student to study French in high school and then at a post-secondary institution or to accept employment in a bilingual work environment
Realities of Late French Immersion
- Students in LFI have diverse experiences learning French ranging from none and beyond
- Students who enter LFI received their primary education in English and come from diverse environments and cultures and may not have French or English as a first language
- Students in LFI have already developed language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking in their mother tongue), learning strategies and problem-solving strategies
- At first, students listen and understand language, afterwards they speak, write and read
- Students who have difficulties in a language will have similar difficulties in French-such as with the reading and writing (Government of Alberta – Education, 2010)
- Students develop the ability to effectively, practically and appropriately use language for communication of personal, scholastic, social and professional purposes (Genesee, 2004) however, they do not attain equibilingualism (Roy, 2008); which means that they cannot speak both French and English like native born speakers
- Students who learn languages use their cognitive skills differently from unilingual students (Cook, 2001)
- Students develop French language skills according to the number of hours they have had of instruction- students who receive the most hours have the highest results (Archibald, et al., 2006)
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Cook, V. (2001). Using the First Language in the Classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review, 57, 3, 402-423.
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Day, E., & Shapson, S. (1988). A Comparison Study of Early and Late French Immersion Programs in British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Education Vol. 13, No. 2, 290-305.
Genesee, F. (2004). What Do We Know About Bilingual Education for Majority Language Students? In W. R. T.K. Bhatia, What Do We Know About Bilingual Education for Majority Language Students? (pp. 547-576). Malden, M: Blackwell.
Government of Alberta – Education. (2010). Late Immersion Foundation Document. Edmonton: Alberta Education.
Lightbown, P., & Spada, N. (2006). How Languages are Learned. New York: Oxford University Press.
Roy, S. (2008). Learning French in Alberta. Calgary: Blitzprint Inc.
Saskatoon Public Schools. (2013). French Immersion. Saskatoon: Saskatoon Public Schools.