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How to Prepare Your Child for French Immersion


Starting school can be a challenging transition for any family.   For students going into French Immersion, it can be even more challenging learning a second language.

Fortunately, we asked our Toronto French tutors for their advice on strategies and tips for parents transitioning to French Immersion in September.

1) Engage Your Child: Talk with your child that they will be learning a new language and that it can be fun.  Having a positive attitude about French Immersion is critical to support your child.  If your child has any concerns, try to go through them in advance and mention that the teacher will assist them with the transition.

2) Make French Part of Everyday Life:  Incorporating French into everyday life will help smooth the transition for your child.   For example, during meal time, pick a couple of food items and learn them in French.  If there is a number, colour, letter they see, work to try to say it in French. For each morning, ask what day of the week it is in French.

3) Sing Along: Singing French at home or in the car can make it fun. Check out singers including Charlotte Diamond for great songs.  Here is an example of one to learn about pizza in French.

4) Watch French TV:  Did you know that many of your child’s favourite shows are also in French?  Try your channel guide, but also look on YouTube or the Netflix French option.  There are also tons of fun and popular shows created in French like Caillou, which your child will love.

5) Learn in Advance: There are a ton of French Apps for students to get ahead of school and learn words, counting and eventually areas like verb conjugation.

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Transitioning to French Immersion – 5 Things To Know

French Immersion

Should you enroll your child in French Immersion?   It can be a big decision for many parents with students going into kindergarten or starting elementary school.

With close to 15% of Canadian students enrolled in French Immersion and almost 30% enrolled in a second language program the demand has continued to increase.

Before enrolling your child in French Immersion there are number of considerations worth discussing:

1) Future Benefits: Graduating bilingual from high school can have tremendous benefits.  With careers, speaking a second language can increase opportunities particularly in areas of government, law, sales / marketing and travel and tourism to name a few.   Also being able to speak  French opens opportunities to work or travel in other parts of the world.   French is one of the top 10 most spoken languages in the world.

2) Supporting Your Child Outside of the Classroom: If no family members speak French, consider how you will be help them with school work.   Also learning a language inside the classroom is often only the beginning.   Think about who in your network of friends and family your child could speak French with outside of the classroom.   Also, are there any trips you could take to French speaking areas like Quebec to immerse your child in the language?

3) Doing Research on Schools:  Understand what school your daughter / son would attend.  Often times it is different than if they were in the English stream.  The TDSB has a helpful French Program Finder based on your address and / or local school.   It is also helpful to consider the private school option.   Several French Immersion private schools include: The Giles School and Toronto French School.  To learn more visit Our Kids for a full list of private schools.  Finally, consider if you have children in different schools and how to manage their various schedules.

4) Students with Learning Disabilities: If you child has a learning disability, English programs have significantly more special education support than in French.

5) Transitioning Back to English Stream:  Learning a second language may not be for every child.  A question parents should ask is what happens if French Immersion ends up not being the right program for my child?   Would it be more challenging for the student to continue moving forward with the program or switching back to a new program and group of students in the English stream?

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French Apps – Recommendations From Our Tutors

Child Learning French

For those of us who aren’t bilingual, teaching French can be tricky, particularly with French Immersion.  Fortunately, with the help of educational technology, learning a second language can be fun.   Parents and students can use apps to improve on their words, very conjugation and counting.

We’ve reached out to our French tutors to get their feedback on the best apps for children and parents to use.   Here are five of their favourites:

1) Learn French by MindSnacks:  9 games designed for essential vocab & conversation skills. The app keeps things interesting with rich and unique games designed to help memorize words, practice verb conjugation, and learn word gender. Plus, native speaker audio clips will help make those tough French pronunciations as breezy as a walk through Paris.

2) Lately Lily: Paris for a Day!: Pack your suitcase, hop on a plane and learn some French in Paris.  Includes 4 different activities to learn common words with unique illustrations.

3) Frenchie Teachie: Learn French the fun way: with easy and fun games. More than 230 words and their article in 12 different games.

4) Verb Trainer: Search any verb in French or English, choose a tense and you will get a list of conjugations.

5) Gus on the Go: French for Kids: Join Gus, the friendly owl, as he travels around the world and explores languages. Your child can learn basic vocabulary concepts with interactive visual and auditory lessons on numbers, colors, shapes and more. Each lesson review unlocks an exciting vocabulary game that reinforces what your child has learned.





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Learning French over the Summer

Learning French over the Summer

Almost one month to go until another school year comes to an end and summer is here.  When we think of summer, we think of family vacations, fun field trips and enjoying the warm weather by a pool or lake.

Summer can also be a time for your children to learn a new language or strengthen their second language speaking and writing skills in a fun an enjoyable way.   Below are some fun ways to strengthen your child’s language skills, focusing on French.

1) Attend a French Summer Camp:   Attending camp is a wonderful way for children to build their confidence, while having fun.   It also allows students to build on their verbal and conversational skills outside the classroom.    Camp Tournesol offers day and overnight camp options to students in numerous programs throughout the summer.  For a further list of camps throughout Canada, visit Our Kids . 

2) Explore – French Language Bursary Program:  Offered in the summer for any skill level in French, the program provides a $2,200 bursary for tuition fees, instructional materials, meals and accommodation to learn French and the local culture in another region of Canada.   Explore is a five-week intensive program that offers learning through classroom instruction, workshops, socialcultural activities and field trips.

3) Watch Videos / Sing Songs:   There a ton of excellent visual and audio resources online to make learning a second language fun.  The 30 minute video below has exciting songs and games to learn basic words, phrases, colours and numbers.

4) Educational Technology – French Apps:  There are number of wonderful online apps for your smartphone or tablet for learners of different ages and skill levels.  Here are some of our favourites:

Learn French: Play French games to build essential vocabulary & conversation skills.

French Verbs: Learn about French verbs and their conjugation.

French Language Learning: Provides a set of engaging, interactive study tools that help you really learn French.

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How to Learn French Online

Learning a second language can be a valuable asset for students both in school and in the real world.   In the Ontario School Curriculum students can learn French as a Core Subject or through French Immersion, depending on their interests and ability to grasp new languages.

There are also numerous opportunities for students to learn French outside the classroom.  In addition to French Tutoring, there is a ton of great French activities and online learning through educational technology.

Below are some great online resources and Apps to help your daughter or son learn French.

French Online Resources

French Games: Website for children to learn French. It has a full set of free lessons, games and tests with over 100 topics – both beginner and intermediate.

Language Lab:  BBC game designed to learn French with Roller and his mates.

Use Google in French: Test your French language knowledge through searches on the Google France website.

French for Kids: A YouTube channel with videos to help children learn French in a fun and engaging way.

French Apps

Learn French: Play French games to build essential vocabulary & conversation skills.

French Verbs: Learn about French verbs and their conjugation.

French Language Learning: Provides a set of engaging, interactive study tools that help you really learn French.

French English Dictionary: Allows students to extend the dictionary, phrasebook and verb conjugator into comprehensive reference tools.

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Fun With French – Tips From Our Tutors

Learning French or any other second language does not have to stop in the classroom or with homework.   There are a ton of great websites, games and places to visit where you can have fun with French.

We asked our French tutors if they could give their best recommendations below:

Cook in French:  Think about all the great food you can cook and eat to learn French:  Baguette, Éclair, Crepes, Croissant, etc.   Also, take meals you would normally eat and see if you can name them in French.

Solve the Crime:  Can you solve the crime in French?  This website will provide all the clues.

TFO – GamesA ton of great games to improve French vocabulary, math, writing and science

Link to Learning – French as a Second LanguageGreat tools to assist students with everything from vocabulary development to verb conjugation.

Maison De La Presse – Bookstore:  Visit their store in Yorkville, where they have a comprehensive selection of French books including many bestsellers and children’s books.

Carnaval de Quebec:  Learn more about French culture in Quebec and potentially attend the February annual fair in Quebec City.

French TV Channels:  Expand vocabulary and speaking skills by watching age appropriate shows on TV5, Radio Canada and TFO.

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