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French as a Second Language

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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 at HWDSB:

  • is a proven way of acquiring excellent language skills in French
  • is 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

If you are interested in enrolling your child in French Immersion, please contact your nearest French Immersion school in September.

Information Sessionfrench immersion information session

Tuesday November 29, 2022
6 to 7 p.m. at the HWDSB Education Centre
20 Education Court, Hamilton, Ontario L9A 0B9
Flyer: French Immersion Info Night

Click here to learn more about Grade 7 & 8 Information Nights.


Families of students new to HWDSB should begin registering in February to ensure they receive a spot in the school’s French Immersion class.

French Immersion Support for Your Child

rench Language Support – After school program 

Canadian Parents for French (Ontario)

Canadian Parents for French



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

Need more Information?

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.

French Immersion Locations and Catchment Areas

Sherwood (Gr. 9-11)  Westdale (Gr. 9-12)
25 High Street, Hamilton
Sherwood Website
700 Main Street West, Hamilton
Westdale Website

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

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.

Secondary Core French Programming

At the secondary level, students can take French as a subject from Grades 9 – 12. It is mandatory that students take one French credit for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. In addition, a maximum of two credits in French can count towards compulsory credits. The French as a Second Language teacher is a specialist who teaches multiple grades. As with other secondary courses, French is taken daily for one semester and is offered at the academic, applied and open levels.

The goal of the Core French Program at the secondary level is to continue to develop communication skills. It also offers students a chance to develop usable communication skills that can be expanded through further study.  The program also continues to develop student 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 9 to 12 Curriculum

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

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.

Why would I encourage my child to take FSL as an elective beyond the required Grade 9 course?

It is important to discuss the benefits of having French-language skills with children when they are thinking about secondary school course options, so they can make decisions that do not close doors and limit their opportunities in the future. Parents can point out that having a high level of proficiency in French can open up a wider range of career opportunities, both in Canada and around the world.

What should my child consider when choosing FSL courses at secondary school?

Grade 8 students should reflect on their strengths, interests, and goals as they consider the FSL course descriptions and expectations contained in the Ontario curriculum documents. Students are encouraged to discuss their choices with their current elementary FSL teacher, and where possible, a secondary FSL teacher.

As part of Creating Pathways to Success policy and program requirements, starting in Grade 7 students will use a web-based Individual Pathways Plan (IPP) to document their learning and career/life planning. Part of this planning will include an exploration of courses available at secondary school and an investigation of potential career pathways.

While Ontario students are only required to obtain one secondary credit in French as a Second Language, FSL courses are available in secondary schools from grade 9 to 12, to encourage the continuation of second-language learning.

Secondary schools may offer Open French courses for students who did not acquire 600 hours of Core French instruction by the end of grade 8. Parents of these students should discuss this option with their child’s current elementary FSL teacher, as well as contact the secondary school where their children will be attending.

Helpful Resources

May 11, 2021 Update: June 2021 DELF Examination Cancellation

Due to the global pandemic and the shift to remote learning in April 2021, the Board is unable to offer the DELF examination originally scheduled for June 2021.

The Diplôme d’études en langue française (DELF) is an official international diploma awarded by the French Ministry of Education recognizing the CEFR level of proficiency of candidates for whom French is a second language. It is based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), which defines language proficiency along six global levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2.

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:

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.

FASL meeting dates.

French As a Second Language Community Advisory Committee

Wed Sep 27 2023 6:00 PM

Education Centre - Room 201C


French As a Second Language Community Advisory Committee

Wed Nov 29 2023 6:00 PM

Education Centre - Room 340D


French As a Second Language Community Advisory Committee

Wed Jan 31 2024 6:00 PM

Education Centre - Room 181B


French As a Second Language Community Advisory Committee

Wed Mar 27 2024 6:00 PM

Education Centre - Room 340D


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

Secondary School Grades 9-12 3.2 kms

The method of transportation for secoondary students is HSR (unless there is an existing route that accommodates these students).

In the event the student would be on a HSR bus (or buses) for a scheduled length of time longer than 60 minutes one way (including scheduled transfer time), alternative transportation will be provided.

Updated on Sunday, October 15, 2023.
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