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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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.