French Immersion

French Immersion is offered at Saint Henry’s Junior School (Grades 1-5) and Saint Henry’s Senior School (Grades 6-9) in Melville and in Yorkton at Saint Michael’s School (Grades 1-8) and Sacred Heart (Grades 9-12)
FAQ’s about French Immersion

What is French Immersion?

French Immersion is a highly successful approach to second language learning – an effective way for students to become functionally fluent in French while achieving all of the objectives of the regular school program.  The program is designed for students whose first language is not French.  The objective is full mastery of the English language, functional fluency in French, as well as an understanding and appreciation of the French culture.

Is Religious Education taught in the French Immersion schools?

The Christ the Teacher School Division is utmost and foremost Catholic. Catholic principles govern all school activities and are present in every subject taught. Religious education instruction, which provides young people with the opportunity to learn more about their faith, is mandatory at every grade level. Opportunities for prayer and religious celebration are integral to the program.

What are some of the benefits of learning a second language?

  • Students develop a communicative competence in the second language, at no expense to the development of the first language.
  • Since many of the skills and much of the knowledge used in acquiring a second language are the same as those used in learning one’s first language, these skills and this knowledge are easily transferable to the second language. This experience may enable students to learn a third and fourth language more efficiently and with greater expediency.
  • Students gain a new awareness and a greater understanding of other cultures and an enhanced understanding and appreciation of their own culture. A knowledge of French helps students to better understand the history, development, and politics of Canada, and also helps them to develop an enhanced global understanding.
  • Bilingual students become increasingly competitive in their ability to participate in world affairs, including business, civil service, trade and commerce, service industries, diplomacy, teaching, journalism, and international and national agencies. Personal pleasures such as literature, art, music, theatre, and travel are also enhanced.

What are the outcomes for the French Immersion program?

The French Immersion program enables students to develop a functional fluency in French, while providing them with the advantages of the all-English program. The program’s outcomes enable students to become functionally bilingual.  Our students:

  • are able and willing to participate easily in conversations in French and English,
  • are able to further their education as appropriate to their abilities and interests, with French as the language of instruction,
  • are able to accept employment using French as the working language,
  • gain insight into the French heritage and culture of Canada and the common attitudes and values of the French-speaking community, and
  • achieve equivalent levels of learning in the content of all subjects taken, whether they are instructed in English or in French.

What type of student will benefit from this program?

A student who has little or no previous knowledge of French, but who possesses a keen interest in learning designated curriculum through the French language, is well suited to this program.

Is the French Immersion program suitable for all children?

  • The language of instruction bears little, if any, relation to academic performance, particularly in Early Immersion programs. The student who would excel in an English program will probably excel in a French Immersion program; the student who would have academic difficulties in an English program will likely experience those same difficulties in French Immersion.
  • Most major studies report that the only children found to be very poor candidates for French Immersion are those with a weak language development in their first language or with a poor sense of auditory discrimination or auditory memory. In most cases, these difficulties would be apparent to the Kindergarten teacher and a recommendation would be made for the child to remain in the English program.

Why should I choose French Immersion for my children?

French Immersion opens one more doors for them and for their future well being. Graduates of a full Immersion program can expect increased appreciation of other languages and cultures, enhanced career potential, and a key to learning other languages as well as a more global view of Canada and the world.

When is English introduced?

In Saskatchewan English must be introduced by Grade three.  Students are exposed to one period a day of English language arts.  Within a year or two, they should be reading in both languages.  Skills in one language can be transferred to benefit the development of the other.

What do French Immersion graduates have to show for their efforts?

In Saskatchewan, students who have completed 12 high school credits in French will receive a French Immersion transcript.

Does French Immersion work?

After 30 years of growth and development, French Immersion is one of the most studied programs ever introduced into Canadian schools.  The majority of the research results have been positive.  As a result, the immersion method has been adopted by other countries.  Each year, thousands of students across Canada graduate with excellent skills in both languages.
Success in learning a second language depends on the attitude and ability of the individual, the excellence of the program provided by the schools and to a large extent the supportive attitude of the parents.

How do students learn a second language?

The approach used in the Immersion program is based on the fact that learning a second language has much in common with learning a first language. In both instances the processes are very similar and the language becomes a tool for communication.

  • A young student, just like an infant, wants to create meaning and understand what is happening. Children have a deep urge to be understood. The French Immersion program is designed to create the same kinds of conditions that are thought to occur during first language acquisition — that is, students are encouraged to learn the language by participating in meaningful and interesting language activities. Grade 1 teachers focus on the use of the language rather than the study of the language.
  • Although communication in French is the goal and is perceived as the best method to develop proficiency, the relationship between the French teacher and the student — just like the relationship between parent and child — is vital to the success of a French Immersion program.
  • Parents show a great deal of patience, encouragement and support to their child. In a similar way, teachers create a non-threatening, stimulating and rich environment that reduces anxiety and encourages students to take risks. Together, parents and teachers discuss and reinforce the values and benefits of learning two languages.
  • Students learn to view their French teacher as an individual who communicates with them primarily in French. If necessary, the teacher reassures the Grade 1 learners by sometimes using English. The young learner initially responds in English and, without denying the importance of the child’s message, the teacher responds in French. Young children are encouraged but are not forced to speak in French. Children will speak when they are ready. Teachers recognize and respect the fact that second language learners go through a silent period.
  • When the French oral and listening skills are fairly well-developed, the Grade 1 teacher will formally introduce reading and writing skills in French. In Grade 1 and in all French subjects, students frequently use the language while studying its form. This is based on the premise that proficiency is most effectively acquired when language is taught across most subjects.

Does it matter if no one at home speaks French?

No, it isn’t important, since the program was designed for children of non-French speaking families. All communication with parents is conducted in English.

How can I get involved in my child’s education?

As in any educational program, parental involvement is important. You can help improve your child’s French proficiency and make the language alive and dynamic by using the following strategies. Contact your child’s teacher for additional suggestions.

  • Learn as much as you can about the French Immersion program.
  • Expose your child to the French language outside the classroom (travel, French camps, student exchanges, and so on).
  • Encourage your child and show an interest in what your child is learning.
  • Expose your child to French music, magazines, pen pals, radio, books, television and live performances.
  • Read frequently to your child in your mother tongue.
  • Be patient with your child. Language learning is a lifelong process.
  • Volunteer in your child’s school. Knowledge of French is not necessary to participate in school activities.

Will my child follow the same curriculum as a student in the English program?

  • Yes, the French Immersion curriculum follows the same Saskatchewan Learning guidelines, as does the English program. Students work toward the same academic goals, regardless of the language of instruction.
  • It should be noted that some French Immersion students might experience a temporary lag with regard to English programs. Students may lag behind with English spelling skills until the end of Grade 5 or 6.

After several years in Immersion, will my child be bilingual?

  • To some parents, a young person who has been in a French Immersion program seems quite comfortable in French. When your child prepares for middle years or high school, however, it is important to remember your original objective for enrolling your child in a French Immersion program. Formal and informal inquiries suggest parents usually choose the program so that, regardless of the career selected, their child can eventually compete in a bilingual workplace.
  • Yet while French Immersion students, even in Grade 10, achieve high scores on French reading and listening comprehension tests, their French language speaking and writing scores are often less satisfactory and show weaknesses in grammar. Students’ self-evaluations support these views. Therefore, if your objective for your child is fluency in French for career or personal reasons, it is essential that he/she continue developing her French skills through high school.

What are the arrangements for transportation?

Bus transportation is available to all students registered in immersion, and their siblings who may be registered in English, if they live outside of the attendance area.  Transportation for French immersion rural students is also provided.

If you have any further questions please call:

  • Saint Henry’s Junior School – 728-4758
  • Saint Henry’s Senior School – 728-3877
  • Saint Michael’s School -782-4407
  • Sacred Heart High School – 783-3128
  • Christ the Teacher Catholic School Division – 783-8787