I recall reading one of my classmate’s blog entry on the Intensive French program, but I cannot find it anymore. The reason that I’m bringing this subject up is that I had an interview yesterday for 3 Intensive French positions in Christ the Redeemer school division in Alberta. Asking me to interview for these positions was very flattering since this is not many schools yet. I would say that it is still in its pilot years.
I first heard about Intensive French last year in my EFRN class. My prof spent a lot of our class time focusing on this program and we even spent a day in Saskatoon observing a couple classes as part of our OCRE. It was very beneficial for me to see a class in action instead of just reading and hearing about them.
How the Intensive French program works, is that it is taught to Grade 6 students who have no previous french background. In the half of the year, the students receive approximately 80% of their instruction in French, and in the second half, it moves down to 20%. The other subjects are compressed into the second half of the year. This means that all the outcomes from each curriculum will be attained, but the number of resources used to get to the learning outcomes is reduced. And since many of the learning outcomes are the same between languages, many of the ELA outcomes are met during the French classes. It centers around communication rather than writing skills. Therefore, there is a lot of interaction between students and students with their teachers.
Great results in the language acquisition in the last few years have been very apparent. After the first half of the year, students in Grade 6 Intensive French are at a Grade 2 French Immersion level. I think that this is fantastic because these students are going to continue moving on with French after having this foundational knowledge. After they complete Intensive French, they move on to Enhanced French in grades 7-12 which provides more hours in French than would Core French.
Since learning about this program, I’ve made it a goal to teach this at some point of my career. I just didn’t think that I would have the opportunity as a first year teacher. I can see it being very challenging for teachers because it is so “intense”. Many of the classrooms that have implemented Intensive French have to deal with the transition of English speaking students to French students. I can see this being a huge program in the next few years if there would be more bilingual teachers who are willing to teach outside of the Francophone or Immersion programs. I can’t wait to see how this will develop over my teaching career!