​FSL in Ontario: Frequently Asked Questions

(Reference: A Framework for French as a Second Language in Ontario Schools - Kindergarten to Grade 12)

How will my child benefit by studying French as a second language?

  • Students gain significant advantages when they speak more than one language. Learning FSL helps strengthen first-language skills and establishes a solid foundation for learning additional languages.
  • Studies have shown that learning more than one language has a positive effect on the development of problem-solving and creative thinking abilities.
  • Additional personal benefits include a heightened appreciation for French culture in Canada and around the world, a broadening of global perspectives, and increased opportunities for international travel and study as well as a general understanding and acceptance of diversity.
  • In Ontario and throughout Canada, many jobs require skills in both French and English, and even when it is not a mandatory requirement, French can be a valuable asset in work that involves interacting with the public.

How can I prepare my child for learning French as a second language?

  • Children are not expected to know any French prior to beginning Core French, Extended French, or French Immersion. Even if they do not know French themselves, parents can encourage their children to take an interest in French in various ways.
  • Some children might enjoy listening to French children’s songs and rhymes, watching French children’s programming, videos, or movies, counting in French, or singing the alphabet in French.
  • A positive outlook, a commitment to supporting your child’s education, and a belief in your child’s ability to learn provide a strong foundation for a positive experience in FSL.

How can I help my child succeed in learning French as a second language?

  • Being a positive role model can have a powerful influence on children. Showing your child that you value the learning of French is one of the most important ways to nurture your child’s motivation to do well.
  • Another way of showing that you value French is by learning along with your child. You may also find it useful to take part in social activities for learners of French or to join a parent group that supports FSL education, such as Canadian Parents For French Ontario - CPF Ontario

Will my child be able to speak French as well as read, write, and understand it?

  • All students learning FSL are expected to develop skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The Core French program is intended to help students develop a usable command of the language, while French Immersion, which offers more hours of instruction in French, provides opportunities for students to develop greater fluency. As in any other subject, the level of achievement will differ depending on the child.

I don’t speak French. How can I help my child with FSL homework?

  • Parents of FSL students are not expected to know French. Although French is the language of the FSL class, communication between school and home is in English. Parents may use opportunities such as orientation to school, meet-the-staff night, and parent–teacher conferences to find out about the FSL program, homework expectations, and how to support children’s success. Homework completion can be monitored by checking home–school communications.
  • Parents can help by providing a regular time and place for children to complete work at home. Making homework a routine part of after-school activity will help ensure that children do their homework assignments. Parents can also help to make homework a pleasurable experience by applauding their children’s efforts – for example, when they listen to their children read or practise oral French. Resources designed to assist parents may be available in libraries and on the Internet, and parents are encouraged to access them. One example of an online resource is The FSL Toolbox (www.fslhomeworktoolbox.ca/), which has a wealth of information for parents and offers practical tools for learning French, including videos and audio files.

How can I help my child understand the benefits of continuing to learn French until secondary school graduation and beyond?

  • Children should understand that it takes time to develop French-language skills. Like a novice athlete or musician, an FSL learner cannot be expected to master the required skills without instruction and practice over an extended period. Drawing attention to bilingual role models can motivate children to continue their FSL studies so that they become proficient in French.
  • It is important to discuss the benefits of having French-language skills with children when they are thinking about secondary school course options, or even earlier than that, so they can make decisions that do not close doors and limit their opportunities in the future. Having a high level of proficiency in French can open up a wider range of career opportunities.

What can I do if my child encounters difficulties in FSL?

  • If you are concerned that your child is experiencing difficulties, you should let the FSL teacher know so that together you can discuss what can be done to help your child’s learning. Most children encounter challenges from time to time, but if your child is worried, frustrated, or expresses a concern about learning French, it could be the sign of an underlying problem that should be resolved as soon as possible. Children progress at different rates and learn in different ways, so teachers plan instruction and assessment taking into consideration the students’ interests, learning styles, and previously acquired knowledge and skills

How might French Immersion programs differ at the elementary level?

  • There are many models of French Immersion programs in elementary schools since school boards have the flexibility to design programs to meet local needs. For example, boards decide the grade at which immersion programs begin as well as which subjects will be taught in French and in which grade courses in English language arts will begin.
  • At Thunder Bay Catholic, we offer an EARLY FRENCH IMMERSION which begins in Year 2 of the ELKP program.
“In early immersion programs, students gain fluency and literacy in French at no apparent cost to their English academic skills. Within a year of the introduction of formal English language arts students catch up in most aspects of English standardized test performance.” (Cummins, 1998, p. 34)

Canadian Parents For French Ontario - CPF Ontario

Canadian Parents for French is a nationwide, research-informed, volunteer organization that furthers bilingualism by promoting opportunities to learn and use French for all those who call Canada home.

Vision Statement: A Canada where French – and English – speakers live together in mutual respect with an understanding and appreciation of each other’s language and culture and where linguistic duality forms an integral part of society.

Value Statement: At Canadian Parents for French we value commitment to our mandate, the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge, and the taking of initiative and responsibility so that we achieve credibility and effectiveness.

Here are some valuable links to a variety of informative publications from CPF.


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