Parent's FAQ's about French as a Second Language
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How will my child benefit by studying French as a second language?
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. Students gain significant advantages when they speak more than one language. Besides creating more work options and the potential to earn a higher income, 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.
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. Children might enjoy noticing and examining how French is used in their environment – for example, on packaging of food and household items. Some children might also 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. You can do this by periodically listening to French audio books with your child, watching French television or movies together, and talking about the many communities in Ontario, throughout Canada, and around the world in which French is spoken. 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 experiences can increase your confidence in contexts where French is used, and thus enhance your ability to support your child’s FSL learning.
Because literacy skills acquired in one language will transfer to another, seeing their parents reading in English or their first language can motivate children to read on their own, thus developing literacy skills in the languages they are learning. Taking children to the library, reading together, and encouraging them to read in French as well as English are further ways for parents to support the development of their children’s literacy skills.
Some children may be eager to share at home what they have learned in French at school, while others may feel uncomfortable if called upon to "perform". Asking children to say something in French will not likely result in a demonstration of what they know, whereas encouraging children to read books and magazines in French, their own French compositions, or French labels on packaging shows that you value their French-language skills. You could also look out for opportunities for your child to take part in French activities beyond the classroom, such as school trips, camps, or visits and exchanges. It is always beneficial for children to see that French is the language used by many people in their daily lives.
Learning another language involves skills such as attentive listening, recalling information, inferring, and making predictions. These skills can be developed in any language, often through activities children enjoy such as oral word association and rhyming games; learning song lyrics, poetry, and riddles; playing board, computer, and card games; and doing puzzles of all types. Part of the benefit of these games is the time spent interacting with adults and friends, learning about the world, and seeing how others learn and communicate.
Open communication with the FSL teacher is invaluable in establishing a strong partnership to support your child’s success. This may be accomplished by attending curriculum information sessions and parent–teacher interviews. It is important for parents to communicate with the FSL teacher if there are aspects of the children’s FSL learning that need particular attention.
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. As well, the ministry (at www.edu.gov.on.ca/abc123/) provides tips in several languages on a variety of ways to support children’s learning at home.
How can I be involved in FSL at my child’s school if I don’t speak French?
There are many ways in which parents can become involved in FSL, such as assisting on class trips or with special events in the class or school, helping find out where French is spoken or used in the community, organizing French social activities, information nights, or summer programs, and networking with community groups. Many elementary schools and classes look for volunteers to listen to children read in French. Even if your French-language skills are limited, your attentive listening would be appreciated by young students. FSL students are sometimes involved in French drama or music presentations and may be grateful to receive artistic, musical, or technological assistance.