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#1 of 11 Old 11-05-2002, 04:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My five year old son is in kindergarten and has shown an amazing interest in learning other languages. I had struggled with the idea of putting him in french earlier however decided to stick with english only due to many personal/ shool district issues. However, we are moving back to our home town in Alberta and are reconsidering the idea. Any parents of children in a french immersion program? How has the experience been? Do you think he would be a tad behind joining in gr 1? He has been showing a immense interest in other languages and likes to watch the french channel cartoons so perhaps he already knows more than I think he does?
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#2 of 11 Old 11-08-2002, 01:45 AM
 
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Hi there,

I'm afraid I don't have a child in french immersion, but it's already something we've thought about for dd (who's 14 months, so it may be a bit premature!!). My husband is from Europe and can converse in a gazillion languages, deplores monolingual North Americans. It's so hard to pick up new languages once you're an adult!

About your child being behind joining in grade 1: I don't know about Alberta, but in the district we're in in BC, you can start in kindergarten, grade 1, or grade 6.
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#3 of 11 Old 11-08-2002, 02:14 AM
 
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My daughter is in Grade Three in French Immersion in Ontario. Until last week I had only wonderful things to say about French Immersion. Here are the good points:

1. Your child is going to be in a stimulating environment even if he is far ahead of other children academically. The mental gymnastics of figuring out what the teacher is talking about keeps bright cooperative minds active, even if they are learning about colours again...

2. Generally your child will be in a class with kids whose parents also care about education. In the public system that can be a real bonus.

3. Your child is only a little bit behind children who go to English school in terms of reading and writing and by Grade Three he will have caught up.

4. Your child will be taught a more "classical" and analytical way of approaching language than children in an English school. Grammar is a big part of French Immersion.

Now, here is the downside:

1. You're in Canada. Don't expect every teacher to come with a beautiful Parisian accent. Also the teachers sometimes have pretty limited English skills. You will be amazed or horrified at some of the English language letters they send home.

2. You child's friends probably will ride the bus. If you want a playdate, you'll be driving across town or into the country.

3. You are locked into the school. If Grade Two doesn't have good teachers, you can't go to another school or homeschool and then expect to go back to the same school. This is a huge issue right now at our house because my daughter's Grade Three year is just not as good as her first two years (which were completely amazing). I would say this is the second biggest drawback to French Immersion because many of my teaching friends have assured me that a good student can survive a bad year and make it up academically.

4. Here is what I see as the worst problem, and it may not be the same everywhere. In our region, the French Immersion schools offer almost no remedial teaching. If a child is struggling, he is sent back to the English schools. That can be really damaging to the child's self-esteem. It also means that some children (and parents) think that the kids at the English schools are not too bright. It can cause problems in a neighbourhood where there is already friction.

There is my mini-analysis of French Immersion. On the whole I love, love, love it, but I have to say that you will need to be patient with the school because it won't always be perfect. As well, I have seen my niece excel in the program and her brother bombed in it. It is definitely not suitable for a child who isn't crazy about school. If your son feels like there are other things than school that he'd rather spend his energy on, let him learn in English. My daughter's Grade One French Immersion teacher said she chose an English school for her own sons because she knew they wanted to spend their childhood thinking about hockey, not languages. That can be a problem for some families if they want all their children going to the same school.

As far as starting your son in Grade One, I wouldn't worry about it too much, but your school board might. Our region doesn't offer kindergarten French Immersion, so the children spend one or two years (Junior Kindergarten and Senior Kindergarten) in the English school and then switch in Grade One. Some children switch in Grade Two, but it is rare, and seems to depend a bit on the child's academic ability.

There is an organisation called "Canadian Parents for French" and they have a website that might have more information for you.
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#4 of 11 Old 11-15-2002, 05:42 PM
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This is off topic, I know. Your son wants to learn French and so he should. BUT it seems to me that most parents want their kids in French Immersion because they think the teachers and students will be "Better" than in English public school. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with the French. I know some parents who have done French Immersion just to get the bussing. Dispicable. This is my particular beef and I just had to finally say it out loud. Thanks for listening!
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#5 of 11 Old 11-17-2002, 10:16 AM
 
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Well, I definitely think the French Immersion school my daughter goes to is a better school than the English school that she would attend, but I will qualify that by saying it is a better school for our family. Judging from a few choice words the principal let slip during a recent meeting, I'd doubt the French Immersion teachers are considered "better" in their profession. Getting a teacher who can speak French and wants to live in Southern Ontario is not easy.

The lack of remedial help is perceived by some people as making the school better because they don't realize that nearly every child could use a little extra help along the way. In fact, there is a special education teacher now working in the school, but she doesn't have her own class, so she is not as visible as she might otherwise be. I have to say that I can't see why anyone would want full-time second language immersion for a child who was struggling with school in his first language and needed a lot of special education.

Bussing is also a big deal in French Immersion. In order to have an entire school of French Immersion (instead of just one or two classes in an otherwise English school) the program draws from a wide geographic area. Some of the children get on the bus at 7:30 a.m. and don't get home until 5:00 p.m. I don't see it myself, but I guess that's what some folks want. Not only are they getting bussing, they're getting extended daycare! (This is a joke, albeit lame.)
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#6 of 11 Old 11-18-2002, 01:40 PM
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"I have to say that I can't see why anyone would want full-time second language immersion for a child who was struggling with school in his first language and needed a lot of special education."

Best job, if you enroll your child in immersion in kindergarten then you wouldn't know if they would struggle. I'm worried about getting my son into the right school for him right off the bat. I really don't want to be switching schools trying to find the right one. It's so disruptive. I really want his school experience to get off to a good start. For me french immersion for a child who doesn't have a french speaking parent and/or has shown no interest is just too risky.

Sorry, Louise, for getting off topic! Maybe you could enroll your son in a french day camp or play group or something to kind of test the waters. My niece went to french immersion Montessori pre school and did really well so they will be sending her on to french immersion kindergarten.
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#7 of 11 Old 11-18-2002, 02:06 PM
 
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hi louise. i went to a french immersion school in saskatchewan (i'm only 23 so it wasn't too long ago). i have to say i am very pleased that i did.. it's very nice to know another language. i believe, like someone else said, that it is very helpful to have a different way of analysing thot and language.

unfortunately, the only french immersion schools in sask are catholic : , so i'm still deprogramming myself (in two languages no less!).. i assume there are public french immersion schools in alberta?
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#8 of 11 Old 11-18-2002, 02:27 PM
 
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it is very unlikely that your children will have teachers with french as their first language. i didn't until the 9th grade, and as a result my accent is laughable .. also, there's a good chance anglophone teachers wouldn't speak with grammatical accuracy (mine often didn't) which can be very confusing.
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#9 of 11 Old 11-18-2002, 04:36 PM
 
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That is certainly something worth asking at the pre-registration information night, mamabeard. At the school my daughter goes to, the hiring policy is to find the best French speakers and then hire English specialists to introduce the core English instruction in Grade Four. I know that is not the case with every board of education, though, and my nephew, whose mother went to French school, was not put in French Immersion because she felt that the teachers at their local school were not fluent in French.

At my daughter's school, most of the teachers come from Quebec, though a few are from France. Their accents range from quite lovely to a bit rough sounding. Her present teacher is from the Gaspe and she sounds like it (in both French and English), but I don't think that is a bad thing. Like English, French can be spoken properly in a number of accents.

"I have to say that I can't see why anyone would want full-time second language immersion for a child who was struggling with school in his first language and needed a lot of special education."

I guess I was looking at that from my own experience, which is that of having my child in pre-school and then kindergarten before going to French Immersion for Grade One. Many of the preschool teachers had older children attending the same French Immersion school and were able to advise me about my daughter's readiness. A parent who is enrolling a child in school for the first time in French Immersion and had any questions at all about her child's readiness for a second language program would be wise to visit the particular school and see what help is available for both children and parents if problems arise. That way they are prepared if they need to ask for help.
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#10 of 11 Old 01-26-2004, 08:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by mamabeard
unfortunately, the only french immersion schools in sask are catholic : , so i'm still deprogramming myself (in two languages no less!)
Hi mambeard,

Where are you from in Saskatchewan? In Saskatoon there are 5 French immersion public schools. I am not sure when they became French immersion so possibly they were not French when you were in school.

Also, I noticed you mentioned "deprogramming" yourself. If you have time to expand on this I'd greatly appreciate it. I am currently considering switching my daughter from a Montessori school to the Catholic French immersion school from us. I am not religious so this is a concern for me.

Thanks!

Tofie ~ mama to DD1, DD2 and Pookie v3 debuting December 2011
Oh my God....women are the COWS of PEOPLE!! --Reese, Malcolm in the Middle
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#11 of 11 Old 01-26-2004, 08:40 PM
 
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mambeard, I just checked and the elementary school I went to (River Heights) became French immersion in 1981! LOL, I was still there at the time (grade 6) and the school even got renamed to École River Heights School. Funny I don't even remember this happening!

Tofie ~ mama to DD1, DD2 and Pookie v3 debuting December 2011
Oh my God....women are the COWS of PEOPLE!! --Reese, Malcolm in the Middle
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