No, you do not have to know French. This is a program designed for children whose families do not necessarily speak French. The best way to help your child is to support and encourage them in the study of French (watching TV in French, listening to a small book the student would like to read to you, etc.). If you do not speak French, your child may become a more autonomous learner because they will have to call upon friends or look for other sources of help if there are problems with homework or assignments.
YES. The use of the English language by the teacher will only occur for a very short period of time at the beginning of the Intensive French program. During the 80% French part of the day, it is essential that students be completely immersed in the language for maximum learning.
As the three-year pilot project in Newfoundland has shown, there will be absolutely no negative effect on the level of skills in English. This is because learning a second language, such as French, is an overall literacy experience. In the teaching of Intensive French a language arts approach is adopted. Skills in the areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing are all taught. All the processes involved in the study of these skills in French are transferred into English during the last five months of the school year. In effect, there is an increase in instructional time for language arts and as a result more time is devoted to actual literacy development.
For children whose first language is not English, research conducted in BC has shown that gains in English proficiency are more pronounced for students who take part in Intensive French than those who do not, especially if their proficiency in their first or second languages (home language and English) are already fairly well developed.
NO. Students will not be expected to "do extra work" in order to "cover the curriculum". The curriculum for the year will be carefully structured to cover all the learning outcomes without increasing the workload. This can be achieved by "integrating" the overlapping learning outcomes, reducing the number of activities used to attain the same learning outcome and focusing on skill transference from one subject to another.
At the end of the school year, where Intensive French is offered, students should, among other things, be able to:
- carry on a general conversation on specific topics;
- write with a reasonable degree of accuracy – for instance, write with or reply to a letter from a friend or write messages to people of their own age;
- ask relatively simple questions;
- read a short, simple novel in French, grasping the general idea; and,
- read simple articles in a newspaper or magazine at an appropriate age and interest level.
The focus of Intensive French is on the learning of French as a means of communication, and not as an academic subject of study.
French is taught as a means of communication, and not as an object of study. Because curriculum in Intensive French is based mainly on the everyday experiences of students, they learn how to speak about things of interest to them. They become motivated and interested, talking about themselves, their families, their favourite animals, sports they like, films, etc. Anecdotal reports from parents and students show that even students who struggle in academic areas gain more self-confidence and actually improve their literacy skills generally.