What Exactly is Intensive French?
Intensive French (IF) is a second language teaching approach in which French is taught intensively for most of the day for five months during Grade 6. The students in the program receive about 80% of their instruction in French during the first half of the year and 20% during the second half; the rest of the curriculum (except for Mathematics) is “compressed” into the second half of the year.
The key ingredients for IF success are:
- Intensity of French instruction: Students and teacher speak only French during the first half of the year (80% of the day). The focus is on learning to communicate in French and not on other content learning in particular. To this end, students focus on topics that are grouped into relevant and engaging themes. Real-life projects within these themes help students to see the practical value of what they are learning. Instruction concentrates on the oral as well as the writing and reading skills.
- Time of concentrated exposure: It has been shown that the most efficient way to learn another language is to spend concentrated time with it. Higher results are achieved with 60 hours concentrated into three weeks with four hours a day, than with 60 hours spread over three months with one hour a day, even though the number of hours is the same.
- Enriched communicative FSL methodology: In order to make optimum use of the increased time of French, an enriched curriculum is required. This enrichment is provided through expanding the content of the curriculum, increasing the depth of exploration of topics and adopting a whole language approach to the teaching of French. The curriculum is cognitively demanding and increases in complexity of language use, tasks and knowledge base during the five months. It integrates some information from other subject areas, such as Science (environmental issues), Social Studies (Canadian and world geography, Canadian and world history), and Health (rules for good nutrition).
- Interactive pedagogy: Regular use of an interactive pedagogy, such as cooperative learning (working in pairs and small groups) and project-based learning is an essential part of IF. Projects permit students to use language in many different contexts, enabling them to use more types of language functions (explaining, gathering information, asking questions, negotiating meaning) as well as integrating knowledge from different sources using complex language structures. It contributes significantly to the development of cognitive, social and personal capacities as well as the organizational skills of the learner.
What is the Difference?
Elementary Core French: is a basic second language program intended to enable students to communicate purposefully in French and develop an openness to cultural diversity. The program is available in elementary schools at the Grade 5 – 7 level offering approximately 100 minutes of instruction per week.
Intensive French: is an intensive French language acquisition program involving a period of intensive exposure to French (80% of one half of the Grade 6 year and 20% for the remaining half). The program continues with strong French instruction in the following years.
French Immersion: is an intensive French language acquisition program with the goal of developing functionally bilingual students through teaching most of the curriculum with French as the language of instruction. The program is offered beginning in Kindergarten (Early French Immersion) or in Grade 6 (Late French Immersion).
Intensive French Model
Entry Level – Grade 6
* Mathematics will be taught in English throughout the whole year.
After Grade 6
- Grade 7 – students continue with 60 minutes of French instruction per day.
- Secondary School Follow-up: various models depending on the number of students:
- Intensive French students grouped together in one advanced French class in Grade 8 – 11 (depending on secondary timetabling).