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French as a Second Language

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French as a Second Language

Hamilton Wentworth District School Board’s (HWDSB) French as a Second Language Programming is guided by the three core priorities set out in A Framework for French as a Second Language in Ontario Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 1-12:

  • Increase student confidence, proficiency and achievement in French as a Second Language (FSL)
  • Increase the percentage of students studying FSL until graduation
  • Increase student, educator, parent, and community engagement in FSL

These core priorities are at the forefront of HWDSB’s commitment to FSL that envisions:

“All students communicating and interacting with growing confidence in French.”

HWDSB offers two FSL programs – Core French and French Immersion.  Each of the programs differ in intensity but share a common purpose: To develop student’s communication skills in the French language.

The programs teach students to listen, speak, read, and write in French through real world language opportunities. French as a Second Language also promotes the use of language learning strategies, goal setting/reflection and an appreciation of French culture in Canada and in other regions of the world.

French Immersion Registration

Registration for the 2019-2020 School Year

Applications for Grade 1 entry into French Immersion are only being accepted through the online application form.

Register your child for French Immersion

Registration for the 2019-2020 school year is only available to current Senior Kindergarten students (born in 2013).

A Grade 1 system-wide application process for entry to French Immersion allows for program placement of students, monitoring of accommodations, balance of enrolment, and long-term stability of the French Immersion program.

The application process will begin based on the following important dates:

Friday, October 19, 2018 Application process opens for Senior Kindergarten students only
Friday, November 30, 2018 Deadline for applications
Friday, December 14, 2018 Program location offered to Parent/Guardian
Monday, January 14, 2019 Deadline for program acceptance and registration

We guarantee an offer of placement in the program (not a specific school).

Please note:

  • Families with an older sibling currently in French Immersion are still required to complete an online application for the new student.
  • You will require your child’s Ontario Education Number (OEN) to register, which can be found on their last report card. 

Criteria for French Immersion Placement

  • Availability of the program closest to the student’s home address, based on their French Immersion boundary.
  • Grade 1 siblings entering French Immersion may attend the same school as their older sibling currently in French Immersion, space permitting.
  • Balance of English and French Immersion enrolment in dual track schools (50-60 per cent in English or French).
  • Year over year impact as students progress through Grades 1-8.

French Immersion Schools

Visit our find a school page to find what French Immersion school your child would attend.

Sherwood Secondary School Cluster Westdale Secondary School Cluster
A.M. Cunningham (Gr. 1-5) Bennetto* (Gr. 1-3)
Ancaster Senior (Gr. 7-8) Cootes Paradise (Gr. 1-5)
École Élémentaire Michaëlle Jean (Gr. 1-8) Dalewood (Gr. 6-8)
Fessenden (Gr. 1-6) Dundana (Gr. 1-5)
Glen Brae (Gr. 6-8) Earl Kitchener (Gr. 1-5)
Glen Echo (Gr. 1-5) Guy B. Brown (Gr. 1-8)
Lawfield (Gr. 1-8) Mary Hopkins (Gr. 1-3)
Norwood Park (Gr. 1-8) Ryerson (Gr. 6-8)
Sir William Osler (Gr. 6-8)

*Bennetto Elementary School is not experiencing accommodation pressures. Therefore, Grade 1 students living within the French Immersion catchment will be automatically accepted into the program at this school.

French Immersion Information

  • a proven way of acquiring excellent language skills in French
  • specifically designed for parents who do not speak French, but wish their children to speak both official languages
  • begins in Grade 1 and all students in the city of Hamilton are eligible
Early French Immersion booklet

French Immersion Booklet

Frequently Asked Questions


How do I find out how to register my child for Grade 1 French Immersion?

In October, we are holding information nights at select elementary schools. At these meetings, we explain the online registration process and answer questions about our French as a Second Language programs. We also advertise in the local newspapers and send home a flyer with all senior kindergarten students at our schools.

Why does HWDSB have an application system?

The purpose of a system application process is to ensure that all students who wish to take French Immersion programming are able to do so. In addition, this allows HWDSB to plan accommodation and staffing needs.

A Grade 1 system wide application process for entry to French Immersion allows for program placement of students, monitoring of accommodations, balance of enrolment, and long term stability of the French Immersion program.

When a student is accessing French Immersion, placement is determined by availability of openings within schools providing the Program.

The guarantee is placement within the French Immersion program – not necessarily the neighbourhood school

Does HWDSB limit the number of students who can register for Grade 1 French Immersion?

Our process is designed to accommodate all students who apply.

How do I register my child for Grade 1 French Immersion?

Registration opens October 19 and closes on November 30, so that we can establish Grade 1 French Immersion classes for the next school year based on the home address used on the application. Families will be notified prior to the Winter Break of acceptance into the program and the location their child will attend. Families have until January 14, 2019 to accept their placement.

What happens if I miss the application deadline?

Applications received after the deadline are reviewed as they come in. Placement is determined by availability of openings within schools providing the Program.

The guarantee is placement within the French Immersion program – not necessarily the neighbourhood school

My neighbourhood school has French Immersion. When I register, will my child have priority to attend that school?

Students who live within the boundary of the neighbourhood school, and/or who have an older sibling attending a French Immersion school, are considered in-catchment students. Although every effort is made to place students in the program at their in-catchment school, living in-catchment or having a sibling at that school, does not provide priority to that school. Placement within a school is determined by availability of openings within the school and the receipt of the online application.

The guarantee is placement within the French Immersion program – not necessarily the neighbourhood school

The program at my home school is full. What happens now?

In cases where there are no available openings at the in-catchment school, an offer will be made to a program at the next closest school that has available space.

The guarantee is placement within the French Immersion program – not necessarily the neighbourhood school

If my child arrives to HWDSB later than October, may he/she enroll in grade one French Immersion?

Students in Grade 1-8 moving to HWDSB from another board may be offered a French Immersion program location for grades other than the Grade 1 entry after a review of student records or confirmation of an equivalent background in French, as determined by program staff from French as a Second Language. The staff application review committee will also review late admissions to determine student placement. Students who are deemed ready will be offered a placement in their French Immersion catchment school if space permits. If there is no space in the French Immersion catchment school, the placement will be offered in another school with French Immersion programming, and no transportation will be provided.


Will HWDSB offer transportation to students enrolled in the Immersion program?

Transportation to a French Immersion program offered at your child’s in-catchment school is offered according to HWDSB’s Transportation Policy .

Transportation to a French Immersion program offered at an out-of-catchment school, for example, a school that is not your child’s neighbourhood school, is the responsibility of the parent/guardian.

Entering French Immersion After Grade 1

If my child does not begin the Grade 1 French Immersion program, could I provide tutoring for him/her so that he/she may enroll in Grade 2?

No. Parents must decide to start their child on the French Immersion pathway in Senior Kindergarten, for Grade 1. Tutoring will not provide your child with the required number of hours in French language instruction to ensure that they are at the same level as their peers by Grade 2.

Contact Information

For more information about French as a Second Language programming, please call: 905-527-5092 ext. 2653.

For more information about Registration Process, please visit www.hwdsb.on.ca/fi.

If you have questions about the Registration process, please email fi@hwdsb.on.ca.

Support for your child


Canadian Parents for French


Parent Guide to Supporting Your Child’s Success in French Immersion and Extended French

For more information about French Immersion, please review the following materials:

You can also connect with Hamilton’s Francophone community to learn about events and activities or call HWDSB’s French Consultant at 905-527-5092 ext. 2653.

There has been a significant shift in Core French programs across Ontario.  Core French Programs no longer rely on memorization of learning skills through drills of endless lists of verbs and vocabulary. Rather, Core French programs allow students to communicate and interact in authentic real-life scenarios.

At HWDSB, learning activities focus as much on listening and speaking as on reading and writing.  Opportunities for student conversations are maximized to develop communication and interaction skills and growing confidence in French.

Elementary Core French Programming

At the elementary level, Core French is mandatory for all students in English-language elementary schools.  Students receive up to 200 minutes of French instruction per week and must have accumulated a minimum of 600 hours of French instruction by the end of Grade 8. Often the French as a Second Language teacher is a specialist who teaches multiple grades.

The goal of this program is to develop basic communication skills in French. Therefore, opportunities for oral interaction and spontaneous discussion are offered. The program also develops students’ appreciation of French culture in Canada and in other parts of the world.

All students are taught using the expectations of the French as a Second Language Ontario Curriculum. Teachers use their professional judgement to select materials and promote discussions that support student engagement, ability and confidence.

Guiding Documents

French as a Second Language Grades 1 to 8 Curriculum

French as a Second Language Grades 1 to 8 Curriculum

French as a Second Language Grades 1 to 8 Curriculum

Including Students with Special Education Needs in French as a Second Language Programs

Growing Success - Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario Schools

Growing Success – Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario Schools

Frequently Asked Questions

What can my child expect to learn in Core French?

A child in the Core French program can expect to develop the communication skills needed to understand and interact with others, to express themselves and to communicate simple ideas at a basic level.

How can I be involved in the Core French Program at my school, if I don’t speak French?

Studies show that students perform better in school if their parents/guardians are involved in their education.  Parents/guardians can be involved in the Core French program in a variety of ways:

  • Get to know your child’s teacher, and participate in parent-teacher interviews.
  • Encourage your child to learn French.  Turn the tables – let your child teach you French! This will build his or her confidence and self-esteem.
  • Offer your child the opportunity to hear and speak French in authentic situations outside of the classroom, such as
    • watching French television,
    • listening to French radio,
    • reading French books
    • viewing the ISE website
    • participating in franco-cultural events offered by local francophone organizations
      • Centre Francais Hamilton offers monthly family events which includes concerts, shows and summer festivals.

What do I do if my child encounters difficulties in Core French?

If you are concerned that your child is experiencing difficulties, you should contact the Core French teacher 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 or frustrated, it could be a 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 considering students’ interests, learning styles, and previously acquired knowledge and skills.

Helpful Resources

DELFThe Diplome d’Etude de Langue Francaise (DELF) is a diploma issued by the French Ministry of National Education in recognition of French-language studies. The CIEP (Centre international d’études pédagogiques) is the public organization appointed by France’s Ministry of National Education to oversee the teaching and administrative aspects of the examination. These diplomas show a student’s proficiency in French and are recognized around the world.

In the spring of each year, HWDSB offers all Grade 12 Core and Immersion students the opportunity to challenge the DELF and demonstrate their French-language skills at three levels: A2, B1, B2. Each diploma corresponds to one of the four lower levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. At each level, a series of examinations evaluates the four communication skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.  Your child, with the support of their teacher, will self-select which diploma to try for.

Students who successfully challenge the DELF will have:

  • life-long certification
  • recognition of their proficiency in French
  • a document for their resume or portfolio
  • a description of what they can do in oral communication, listening, reading and writing in French
  • a certified language assessment for acceptance into a French University
  • travel, job and educational opportunities

More information about DELF:

Students need to connect with their French teacher for more information.

French as a Second Language (FASL) Advisory Committee is advisory in nature with a focus on French programming in elementary and secondary as well as Ministry and community supports that enhance the learning experience for our students.

French As A Second Language Advisory Committee Seeking Members

HWDSB’s French as a Second Language (FASL) Advisory Committee is seeking members to advise Trustees on elementary and secondary French programming as well as Ministry of Education and community learning supports.

We welcome parents, guardians and caregivers with students in Core French or French Immersion.

Please complete this online form to indicate your interest:

French as a Second Language Advisory Committee

FASL meeting dates.

There are no Meetings for November.

Transportation for French Immersion is offered to students whose in catchment school exceeds the walking distances of:

Elementary School Grades 1-8 1.6 kms

The method of transportation for elementary French Immersion is:

Grade 1 to 6 – Black and Yellow Buses with community stops.
A community stop is a centrally-located stop, similar to a transit style stop, for students and may not be within walking distance of a student’s home. Community stops may change year to year based on the home addresses of students.

Grade 7 and 8 – HSR (unless there is an existing route that accommodates these students)

Where HSR is not available, alternative transportation will be provided.

Updated on Monday, November 12, 2018.
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