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Intensive French

Intensive French Grade 6 and 7
Intensive French is a second language teaching approach in which French is taught intensively for most of the day over five months during Grade 6.
This program is open to students entering Grade 6  The students in the program receive about 80% of their instruction in French during the first half of the year and 20% during the second half; the rest of the curriculum (except for Mathematics) is “compressed” into the second half of the year.
Entry level: Grade 6
September to January:
Intensive French semester
80% Intensive French Language instruction
20% instruction in English (Mathematics will be taught in English throughout the whole year)
February to June:
Compacted curriculum semester with instruction in English.
20% (or 60 minutes per day) French instruction
What do we mean by “compacting the curriculum”?
Basically it means compressing the curricula of the different subjects in grade 6 (e.g., Science, Social Studies, English Language Arts) into the second half of the year.  Simply put, all the subject matter learning outcomes will be maintained, but the number of resources used to achieve these goals will be reduced.  This is possible because a lot of the learning outcomes (especially the process ones) can be met effectively during the Intensive French part.  Students will not have to do “extra work” to meet all the required learning outcomes.
After grade 6:
Grade 7: students continue with 60 minutes of French instruction per day.
Secondary school follow-up:
Various models depending on the number of students:
-  Intensive French students grouped together in one advanced French class in Grade 8
-  follow up to occur in Gr. 11 or Gr. 12 with possible Advanced Placement courses
What is the Difference?
Elementary Core French:  is a basic second language program intended to enable students to communicate purposefully in French and develop openness to cultural diversity. The program is available in elementary schools at the Grade 5-7 level offering, on average, 90 minutes of instruction per week. 
Intensive French:  is an intensive French language acquisition program involving a period of intensive exposure to French (80 % of one half of the Grade 6 year and 20% for the remaining half). The program continues with strong French instruction in the following years.
French Immersion:  is an intensive French language acquisition program with the goal of developing functionally bilingual students through teaching most of the curriculum with French as the language of instruction. The program is offered beginning in Kindergarten (Early French Immersion) or in Grade 6 (Late French Immersion).

The key ingredients for IF success:
Intensity of French instruction
Students and teacher speak only French during the first half of the year (80% of the day).  The focus is on learning to communicate in French and not on other content learning in particular.  To this end students focus on topics which are grouped into relevant and motivating themes.  Real-life projects within these themes help students to see the practical value of what they are learning.  Instruction concentrates on the oral as well as the writing and reading skills.
Time of concentrated exposure
It has been shown that the most efficient way to learn another language is to spend concentrated time with it.  Higher results are achieved with 60 hours concentrated into three weeks with four hours a day than with 60 hours spread over three months with one hour a day, even though the number of hours is the same.
Enriched communicative FSL methodology
In order to make optimum use of the increased time of French, an enriched curriculum is required.  This enrichment is provided through expanding the content of the curriculum, increasing the depth of exploration of topics and adopting a whole language approach to the teaching of French.  The curriculum is cognitively demanding and increases in complexity of language use, tasks and knowledge base during the five months.  It integrates some information from other subject areas, such as Science (environmental issues), Social Studies (Canadian and world geography, Canadian and world history) and Health (rules for good nutrition).
Interactive pedagogy
Regular use of an interactive pedagogy, such as cooperative learning (working in pairs and small groups) and project-based learning is an essential part of IF.  Projects permit students to use language in many different contexts, enabling them to use more types of language functions (explaining, gathering information, asking questions, negotiating meaning) as well as integrating knowledge from different sources using complex language structures.  It contributes significantly to the development of cognitive, social and personal capacities as well as the organizational skills of the learner.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. As parents, do we have to know French?
No, you do not have to know French.  This is a program designed for children whose families do not necessarily speak French.  The best way to help your child is to support and encourage him or her in the study of French:  watching TV in French, listening to your child read to you, etc.  If you do not speak French, your child may become a more autonomous learner because he or she will have to call upon friends or look for other sources of help if there are problems with homework or assignments.
2. Will the teacher speak French all the time?
Yes.  The use of the English language by the teacher will only occur for a very short period of time at the beginning of the Intensive French program.  During the 80% French part of the day, it is essential that students be completely immersed in the language for maximum learning.
3. What happens to the skill level in English?
As a three-year pilot project in Newfoundland has shown, there will be absolutely no negative effect on the level of skills in English.  This is because learning a second language, such as French, is an overall literacy experience.  In the teaching of Intensive French a language arts approach is adopted.  Skills in the areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing are all taught.  All the processes involved in the study of these skills in French are transferred into English during the last five months of the school year.  In effect, there is an increase in instructional time for language arts and as a result more time is devoted to actual literacy development.
4. What happens to other subjects?
Since many processes in the learning of subjects such as Science and Social Studies are the same as the ones used and developed in the learning of French (generalizing, making hypotheses, etc.), it is not necessary to relearn these processes.  These skills will transfer into the different subject areas so that, even if time is reduced in these subjects, student success can be the same.
5.  Do students have extra work to do?
No.  Students will not be expected to “do extra work” in order to “cover the curriculum”.  The curriculum for the year will be carefully structured to cover all the learning outcomes without increasing the workload.  This can be achieved by “compacting” the overlapping learning outcomes, reducing the number activities used to attain the same learning outcome and focusing on skill transference from one subject to another.
6.   What happens to Mathematics?
There will be no change in the learning of Mathematics.  Students will receive the same number of hours in Math as those in the regular program.  It will be taught throughout the year in English.
7. How is Intensive French different from Immersion?
In French immersion, students learn subjects, such as Mathematics, Science or Social Studies, in French.  Students learn French while learning a subject.
In Intensive French, the focus is on learning the French language.  Students develop their communication skills, both oral and written, by working on themes.  These themes are drawn from topics relevant to the students’ lives.  No specific school subject is taught in the second language.  However, many of these themes link well with areas in the grade 6 curriculum.  As a result, a large number of the grade 6 process learning outcomes are covered during the intensive French period.
8. How is Intensive French different from the regular Core French program?
Core French is taught following a curriculum that emphasizes the ability to communicate in French through the use of themes and projects centered around the everyday experiences of students.  It is the increase in intensity and in instructional time in French which will allow students to acquire skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing which go beyond the skills acquired in a regular Core French program.
Research shows that students in Intensive French develop spontaneous oral communication skills equivalent to that of grade 11 Core French students and written skills equivalent to grade 3 francophone students.
9. What will a student be able to do in French by the end of grade 6 in IF?
At the end of the school year, where Intensive French is offered, students should, among other things, be able to:
carry on a general conversation on specific topics;
write with a reasonable degree of accuracy:  for instance, write or reply to a letter from a friend, write messages to people of their own age;
ask relatively simple questions;
read a short, simple novel in French, grasping the general idea;
read simple articles in a newspaper or magazine at an appropriate age and interest level.
The focus of Intensive French is on the learning of French as a means of communication, and not as an academic subject of study.
10. What happens if a student cannot keep up with the French?
French is taught as a means of communication, and not as an object of study.  Because curriculum in Intensive French is based mainly on the everyday experiences of students, they learn how to speak about things of interest to them.  They become motivated and interested, talking about themselves, their families, their favorite animals, sports they like, films, etc.  Anecdotal reports from parents and students show that even students who struggle in academic areas gain more self-confidence and actually improve their literacy skills generally.
11. What will happen to the student with learning difficulties?
The Intensive French program should provide a positive learning experience in literacy for ALL students.  In the three-year experience in Newfoundland, it has been noted that some students who found learning more of a challenge made tremendous progress not only in French but also in English.  Furthermore, with the increased time in French, these students were able to see themselves as “successful” students, at least compared to other students in French at the same grade level.  This contributed to a significant increase in self-esteem and self-confidence, important factors for success in learning.  In fact, in some cases, performance in English Language Arts improved significantly.  One hypothesis for this phenomenon is the fact that students get a “second chance” to learn emergent and beginner level literacy strategies they may have missed in their primary years.
12. What will happen to Intensive French students after grade 6?
To maintain students’ gains in French, schools will be offering a follow-up program at the grade 7 level as well as the secondary level.  Students will be experiencing an enriched French curriculum and will thus be in a position to successfully complete grade 1 2 Core French (with the provincial exam) in a timely fashion leaving them openings for more electives during the graduation years.  At the very least, they will have a definite advantage in completing their language requirement with grade 12 French.