What Do the Experts Say?

///What Do the Experts Say?
What Do the Experts Say?2018-01-16T14:40:13-06:00

Watch Advantage for Life, a video describing the advantages of learning a second language produced by the Teaching and Learning Centre at the University of Calgary.

CPF Alberta members can submit questions about French-second-language learning to experts in the field through our Ask an Expert! feature.


English-language skills

“The effect of learning a second language (e.g. French) on first language skills has been virtually positive in all studies. Although most studies on the effect of second language learning on first language literacy have been done in the area of French immersion education, one can also apply the findings to core French and intensive French programmes.

“The loss of instructional time in English in favour of the second language has never been shown to have negative effects on the achievement of the first language. Cummins’ interdependence hypothesis, which maintains that language skills are being transferred from one language to the other, can be assumed to be true for the core French situation as well. One can confidently assume that cognitive abilities acquired in the learning of one language can be put to use in the acquisition and proficiency of the other language. In many studies first language skills were shown to be enhanced, even if instruction time in L1 was reduced in favour of L2 instruction.”

from Research on the Effect of the Second Language Learning on First Language Literacy Skills. Monique BournotTrites, Ph.D. and Ulrike Tallowitz, M.A. for the Atlantic Provinces Education Foundation, January 2002.

English language learners (“ESL” students)

“This study suggests that allophone students are capable of meeting with success in CF

[core French] while continuing to study English. In fact, given the high achievement of the allophone participants as compared with their Canadian-born peers, French may provide a subject area in which the allophone students succeed, whereas they may be faced with failure in other content areas.” from Opening the Doors to Official Language Learning for Allophones Calllie Mady, PhD, 2008

See: Voices of New Canadians: Fact Sheet for Educators

About core French (known in Alberta as “FSL”)

“Core French should be much more than grammar drills and translation exercises. Learning activities should balance listening, speaking, reading and writing. … Students should actively participate in tasks and projects. Curriculum should be based on fields of experience or ‘themes’ that consider the learner’s life experiences, intellectual development, and interests. … Activities in core French should prepare students for real-life communication. … French should be the language of communication in the classroom, with teachers speaking and writing French as often as possible. Students should be encouraged to do the same, but difficulties may need to be accommodated in English.” from “Core French in Canada: FAQs.” Miles Turnbull, Ph.D., Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, for Canadian Parents for French, 2000.

About French immersion

“French immersion is a highly successful approach to second language learning — an effective way for students to become functionally fluent in French while achieving all of the objectives of the regular school program. French is the language of instruction for a significant part of the school day; that is, several or all subjects, except English language arts, are taught in French. This program is designed for students whose first language is not French. The objective is full mastery of the English language, functional fluency in French, as well as an understanding and appreciation of the French culture.” Alberta Education website, copied 10 May 2012

“Canadian immersion is not simply another successful language teaching program — it may be the most successful program ever recorded in the professional language teaching literature.” from “Immersion: why it works and what it has taught us.” Stephen D. Krashen, Ph.D., University of Southern California, in Language and Society No.12, Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, winter 1984.

“It is because language is operating as a real mode of communication, a vehicle by which a child participates in a real event, communicating with and for a real audience, that French as the medium for this communication must be and is mastered by the child with amazing rapidity.” from “Learning Second Languages: Suzuki Violin and French Immersion, a Functional Perspective.” Dames D. Benson and William S. Greaves, Applied Linguistics Research Working Group, Glendon College, York University, Toronto in CONTACT 2(2) May 1983.

Students with learning needs in French immersion

“Researchers have found that immersion students with a variety of difficulties — from learning disabilities to low intelligence to behavioral problems — will do as well academically as they could be expected to do in an English program provided they receive the same assistance as they would if enrolled in the English stream.” from Yes, You Can Help! Information and Inspiration for French Immersion Parents. Alberta Education

“French immersion programs can no longer support any form of exclusivity and elitism. They must be accessible to all students, no matter their cognitive and physical abilities, socio-economic status, or linguistic and cultural background.” from Inclusive Practice in French Immersion by Martine Pellerin, PhD, 2009

“The transfer of students from an immersion program to an English-only program in most cases results in no improvement of the children’s academic success, nor in their behaviour. Researchers have encouraged the development of strategies for working with students with special education needs within the French Immersion program rather than encouraging these students to transfer.” from Diversity in French Immersion: Information for education professionals, consultants and specialists. Alberta Education

see also: What School Administrators Need to Know about Inclusion of Students with Diverse Needs in French Immersion Schools

Diversity in French Immersion Classrooms: A Quick Inclusion Guide for Teachers

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