Why consider implementing Intensive French?

Intensive French gives students the opportunity to learn to speak French in their regular school program. It also encourages social development and working with others.

Who can participate in Intensive French?  

It is a program for all students. Students with learning challenges can cope successfully with the program. See Results on Parents’ Page. Listen to some students discussing their experience in the program.

Student motivation for learning in general, and for learning French in particular, is enhanced by participation in the program. Motivation is created by the feeling of accomplishment students develop once they are able to communicate with each other and the teacher in French.

Is it difficult to implement?

The most significant change is for the five months of IF instruction in Grades 5 or 6.  This portion of the program requires the students to have a half-day of uninterrupted instruction by the French teacher every day for five months (approximately 300 hours or 65% of the school day). Sample timetables and percentages for organizing this part of the program may be found in the handbooks mentioned below.

What changes to report cards are necessary? 

Another important change in the school operations when implementing IF is the change in reporting.  Report cards in the IF program consider French as a language arts experience, and the three skills (oral production, reading and writing) are treated separately.  In the intensive year, at Grade 5 or 6, there is a further change in report cards: in the intensive semester, the report card is limited to French, Mathematics and the other subjects that the school has decided to retain in this semester. In addition, the dates for sending out report cards may need to be adjusted from those used regularly.  In the second semester, the report cards return to their usual style. Examples of report cards may also be found in the handbooks.

Which subject areas are compacted in the intensive semester?

Another important aspect of implementing the intensive year of the program is the need to compact certain subjects, or to develop an integrated program for some areas in the regular program.  Each jurisdiction makes its own decisions about the subjects to be retained in the intensive semester although it is recommended that Mathematics be retained in all cases. Various ways of compacting, or integrating, the curriculum have been adopted by the different jurisdictions. Information about the process of compacting, and examples of the compacted curriculum documents produced, can be consulted in the Integrated Curriculum Document prepared for Saskatchewan schools.  

This article explaining the compacting process may also be useful.

How many hours of instruction are required?

Does Post-Intensive French require a change in timetabling?

For the Post-Intensive years of the program (from Grade 6 or 7 to Grade 12), the number of hours of instruction in French can remain the same as is normally the case for French instruction each year. Some districts add extra time, which will give even better results in French. For more on this, consult the website for Yellowknife School District #1.

Periods of French, though, must be blocked in order to give students sufficient time to interact in French and develop their mental grammar.  Periods of 80 minutes two to three times a week are recommended rather than short periods of 30 or 40 minutes offered more frequently during a week. Sample weekly timetables giving an idea of how these periods can be arranged may be consulted in the handbook mentioned below. 

Is Pre-Intensive French necessary? 

A Pre-Intensive French program may be implemented in the year before the intensive semester. It is recommended in order to assist the students in becoming accustomed to the use of French as a means of communication. The activities also introduce students to the new type of teaching strategies and resources that the IF program uses.  As a result, the intensive semester begins more smoothly, and the students make more rapid progress.

There are no changes required to the timetable for this year, although blocking of periods is always recommended.  Thirty to forty minutes of French two or three times weekly is more effective for developing non-conscious grammar than twenty minutes more frequently; students have more time to use the language themselves.

Yellowknife School District #1 explains their pre-intensive program in Grade 5 on the French programs page of their website.  

Communication With Parents

School community support is an important factor in ensuring a successful implementation of Intensive French.  Parents require information in order to be able to make an informed decision about registering their child in the program. They also need regular reports from the school about what is happening in the Intensive French classroom. Where such communication is maintained, the program generally receives greater support from the parents and the community. Sample letters to parents from the school principal, French coordinator or consultant are included here. 

Sample Letter to Parents

Notice in Local Newspaper

Sample Newsletter Notice

Information Sources 

The following documents offer further information pertinent to school operations is available in the documents listed below: 

Saskatchewan's Handbook for Administrators

New Brunswick has prepared three curriculum guides for Intensive French: One for the Intensive semester; one for Post -Intensive French, Levels 1, 2, and 3, for the Middle School, and one for Post-intensive French, Levels 4, 5, 6 and 7 for secondary school. The New Brunswick Post Intensive French Middle School Curriculum Guide may be consulted here.

New Brunswick's Middle School Curriculum Guide

Note: The New Brunswick Curriculum Guide is provided as an example; it has been written to meet New Brunswick needs. It may however prove useful as a source for other jurisdictions seeking to develop their own curriculum. If doing so, credit should be given to New Brunswick for its development.

Persons who seek clarification are invited to contact Fiona Stewart, IF/PIF Learning Specialist at the New Brunswick  Department of Education and Early Childhood Education.

Other information sources

Department of Education or School District personnel can be contacted in each of the provinces and territories. 

Independent Program Consultants

Three independent consultants are also available for purposes of consultation or providing workshops and training. 

André Charlebois

David Macfarlane

Lyne Montsion