E.J. Dunn Elementary School
Dunn ROCKS
French Immersion
What is Immersion?
 
French Immersion is a highly successful approach to second language learning- an effective way for your child to become fluent in a second language while achieving all of the objectives of the regular school program.  Designed specifically for children whose first language is not French, the basic concept is simple: if you can't take the child to the language (that is, have her live where the language is the common means of communication), then bring the language to her (that is bring it into the school as the primary means of communication. 
 
    The parents in Quebec who first started this program realized that their own difficulties with the French language prevented them from learning it informally from their French neighbours.  These parents recognized that young children who are exposed to a second language quickly develop accent-less fluency. This is seen, for example, among children living in a foreign country who have a caregiver who speaks a different language, or have parents who speak two different languages at home. Older children and adults have far more difficulty learning another language and developing an authentic accent. 
 
    Finally, the parents who began the program in Quebec were confident that this home/school language switch would have no negative effect on their children's competence in English.  There was no fear that French would take precedence over English in the lives of the immersion students.
 
There are 6 Characteristics which define immersion programs:
 
1. The target language is acquired primarily by using it for meaningful communication within the school- that is , for instruction in other subjects (math, social studies, science, etc.).  Students will be expected to speak French in class to their teachers and peers!
 
2. The students all begin not knowing the target language and instructional strategies and materials are designed with that in mind.
 
3. The target language is not the prevalent language in the community.
 
4.  The program begins with intensive instruction in and via the target language by teachers fluent in that language, with instruction via the first language often increasing in later years. (For example, by Grade 8 Math is taught in English in both the Late and Early Immersion programs)
 
5. Instruction of subject material is never repeated in the two languages.
 
6. The program is expected to take several years to achieve its objectives (in most cases these objectives are defined at the end of Grade 12)
 
Early French Immersion
 
 Early French Immersion begins in Kindergarten or Grade 1.  Students begin there schooling at Alberni Elementary School, and then move to E.J. Dunn for Grade 6, 7, and 8.  Grades 1, 2, and 3 have students working 100% in French.  In Grade 4, students are introduced to Language Arts in English as well.
 
Late French Immersion
 
Late French Immersion is offered at E.J. Dunn when there is enough student and family interest. The program is designed to support students who do not have parents or family members who speak French at home. Late French Immersion begins in Grade 6 and is open to any students in the Alberni Valley.  You do not need to live in the E.J. Dunn catchment area to attend.  Students in Grade 6 and 7 take all of their core subjects in French (Language Arts, Math, Social Studies), however, Exploratory and Elective classes are done in English.  Students can have their P.E. courses in French as well depending upon who is teaching their class. 
 
Source: "Yes you can Help! Information and Inspiration for French Immersion Parents".  2002.  Alberta Learning French Language Services