Dear Parent(s):

You will have undoubtedly given much thought and consideration to your choice of enrolling your child in the Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board's Early French Immersion Program.

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

What exactly is French Immersion?

  • The program is designed for non-French speaking children and begins in Junior Kindergarten.

  • Teachers welcome the children into a stimulating environment that aims to develop the whole child, with a focus on early literacy and numeracy development and play-based learning.

  • Children take part in activities that they enjoy, such as mimes, rhymes, repetition of sounds and words, music and movement - as they learn French.

  • By the end of Kindergarten children should know enough French to be able to follow routine directions, understand simple stories, recognize theme-related basic vocabulary, sing songs, recite rhymes and say short familiar sentences.

  • These intensive learning opportunities allow students to attain a high degree of fluency in the French language by the end of secondary school. In addition, our programs foster favourable attitudes towards the French language, its speakers, and their culture.

How will my child be introduced to Kindergarten in French Immersion?

  • In the spring you will be invited to bring your child to school for our Welcome to Kindergarten session.

  • In early September, you will be invited to attend a pre-entry visit held at the school. At this time, you and your child will meet the teacher and visit the classroom. You will also be advised when your child will begin classes and given other important information such as, busing arrangements, school routines and expectations.

  • To allow for a successful start, school entry is phased in over the first week of school.

  • During the first days of school the teacher will take care to put the children at ease so that they adapt to their new environment, feeling both secure and ready to learn.

  • Before long, the children are quite comfortable with the teacher speaking to them in French and are well adjusted to attending school in a French Immersion setting.

How is the Kindergarten to Grade 12 Immersion program structured?

  • Junior and Senior Kindergarten programs are full day, every day, with a balance of French and English instruction - a half day each.

  • Grade 1 and 2 instruction is in French for all subjects except Religion and Family Life (90% French, 10% English).

  • Reading and writing in French begin in Kindergarten; however, the emphasis remains on the development of French oral language skills.

  • Subject areas taught in French represent 70% of the program from Grades 3 to 6, and 50% by Grades 7 and 8.

  • We are also very pleased to offer a variety of secondary courses in French at St. Joseph - Scollard Hall Catholic Secondary School.

What about skills in English?

  • Formal English instruction begins in Grade 3, 300 minutes a week.

  • Religion and Family Life components taught in English make up 10% of the program in each grade.

  • Research shows that, barring any severe learning difficulties, students rapidly make up the expected initial lag in English language skills, and are normally on par with, or surpassing, the achievement of their non-immersion counterparts by Grade 6 or earlier.

How can parents help?

  • It is not necessary to speak French to help your child learn - everyday activities shared and discussed at home promote learning.

  • Encourage good listening; play games that encourage creativity and thinking.

  • Read books with your child in English every day: ask your child to predict story events, discuss characters and express opinions.

  • Listen to your child read in French; praise your child's efforts.

  • Help to develop basic math skills, e.g. through simple sorting, tidying, measuring and counting activities at home.

  • Helpful literature and practical tips from experienced parents can be found at the Canadian Parents for French web-site (www.cpf.ca).

What are the long term benefits?

  • Strong skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing in French

  • Awareness and appreciation of French language and culture

  • Ability to pursue further education and employment requiring bilingual skills

  • Enhanced travel experiences

  • Learning a second language heightens a person's ability to learn and strengthens first language skills.

Supporting Your Child in the French Immersion Setting

  • Be supportive at all times. Remember that your child's success in the program will be greatly influenced by your attitude and encouragement.

  • Establish a cooperative, honest and open rapport with the teacher. Support the teacher, the program and the school.

  • Encourage your child to share what was learned in class.

  • If you are uncertain of the correct expression or pronunciation, give your child the benefit of the doubt.

  • Borrow French books, musical recordings and videos from the library and expose your child to French television programs and French internet sites.

  • On special occasions, accompany your child to a school book fair or to a French bookstore and help her or him select a book or recording of her or his own choice.

  • Take advantage of opportunities offered in your community that will increase your child's exposure to French language and culture.

  • Be proud of your child's achievement. Let your youngster know that you are pleased with the progress being made.

  • Remember that the success of the Immersion program depends largely on the efforts and mutual support of all involved.

These guidelines are adapted from information provided for Immersion parents by Canadian Parents for French (www.cpf.ca), a national organization that supports and promotes second language learning.