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.