Do you have a child who will be enrolling in kindergarten in Canada soon? If you would them to learn French but don’t live in Québec, you may be wondering what your public school options are in terms of early childhood education. Since education is a provincial responsibility, the French programs available to parents vary from province to province. This blog post focuses on the difference between French Immersion and Francophone schools in British Columbia.
What is French Immersion?
Children in BC can enroll in the Early French Immersion program as early as kindergarten. The program offers classes up to Grade 12 and is designed for students who are learning French as a second language. This means that children don’t need to have any prior knowledge of the language nor do they need to have a French-speaking parent to get into the program. The focus of the French Immersion program is to enable students to achieve functional bilingualism while also getting exposure to francophone cultures.
What is the Francophone program?
If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can enroll your child for early childhood education (daycare, preschool) and kindergarten in a Francophone school. Unlike the French Immersion program, which is open to all students, irrespective of their first language, the Francophone program only accepts students whose parents’ first language is French. Therefore, in addition to enabling students to develop strong bilingualism, the program also aims to build and develop a Francophone identity.
French Immersion Schools
If you are a non-French-speaking family and want to teach your child French, then you can apply for the French Immersion program in your school district.
If you’re a French-speaking families in BC, the Conseil scolaire francophone (CSF) website is a great place to research French school options for your child.