Where can my child learn in French?

In this article, we’ve put together a list of French programs available for K-12 learners at Calgary’s public schools (and remember to check out this page at the Calgary Board of Education site for more details).

Early French Immersion (K-12)

Students will develop their French speaking, listening, reading, and writing from Kindergarten to Grade 12. As French is one of Canada’s two official languages, knowing French and English is a good way to gain eligibility for all Government of Canada jobs. Early French Immersion is offered at 22 schools in Calgary.

The language programming is as follows:

  • Kindergarten – Grade 2: All subjects taught in French
  • Grade 3: 80% French, 20% English
  • Grades 4-6: 70% French, 30% English
  • Grades 7-9: French Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies; all other subjects in English
  • Grades 10-12: French Language, Mathematics, and Social Studies; all other subjects in English

Late French Immersion (7-12)
Students who did not begin French immersion in Kindergarten can still begin a French program of study in Grade 7. In this program, students will become intermediate to advanced French speakers by the end of Grade 12. Late French Immersion is offered at 10 schools in Calgary.

The language programming is as follows:

  • Grades 7-9: French Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies; all other subjects in English
  • Grades 10-12: French Language Arts, Social Studies, and Mathematics; all other subjects in English

Intensive French
Intensive French is an alternative to the immersion programs, where no single subject is taught exclusively in French, but students are encouraged to develop a spontaneous use of French language over the entire day. For 5 months of the school year French is used intensively; for the remaining months of the school year, students go back to their regular English school program. This program is offered at 3 schools in Calgary.

Why you should speak a second language

Speaking a second language can be an invaluable skill that will serve you well throughout your lifetime. If you speak 2 or more languages, you’ll likely experience one or more of following benefits:

  • You become smarter: According to this article, speaking a second language improves your negotiation, reasoning, and communications skills, as you learn how to do just this in multiple languages.
  • You become better at multitasking: Constantly translating a second or third language in your head means you also become better at processing multiple bits of other kinds of information.
  • You stop Alzheimer’s and dementia in their tracks: For adults that only speak one language, the average age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4 years. For adults who speak two or more languages, the average age is 75.5.
  • Your first language improves: Because you pay so much attention to grammar and vocabulary in your second language, you eventually bring that attention to your first language as well, and it makes you a better communicator.
  • You can often apply for more (and better) jobs: Having a second language can be a valuable asset in your career, as being able to converse in multiple languages is invaluable for those who work in global companies or those who need to communicate with a diverse audience. Second languages can be especially helpful in business and healthcare.
  • Families preserve their heritage language: Second and third generation Canadian citizens are much less likely than their parents and grandparents to speak their native tongue fluently. Enrolling children in a secondary language school program can help keep their native language alive, which also has the benefit of allowing them to communicate with grandparents and other relatives.

Fortunately, parents can choose from a number of language immersion programs offered at Calgary schools if they are interested in fostering their child’s second language. Most, if not all, classes are taught in the second language (German, Chinese, Spanish, French, or Arabic), but the educational standard is the same as the regular English program.