What is Immersion?
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.
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.
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