Back-to-school means new beginnings – and for some, a new language.
École Dundonald School is now the seventh public elementary school in Saskatoon to offer a dual-track French immersion program.
The change comes the same time a new P3 school opens in nearby Hampton Village.
“We’ll have new students, making new friends. We’ll have our French immersion team here, and we’ll revision and imagine what we’d like École Dundonald School to be like, together,” said principal Sharon Champ.
Parents in the Dundonald, Hampton Village, Confederation Park, Kensington and Westview neighbourhoods now have to choice to enroll their children in either the English or French stream.
Generally, students enter the immersion program in Kindergarten or Grade 1 and French is primarily used for instruction until Grade 3, when English Language Arts is introduced.
“All of the learning is in French. They’re speaking to their classmates in French,” vice-principal Manuela Facci said.
According to the Saskatoon Public Schools Division, Dundonald will offer Kindergarten through Grade 6 French programming for the 2017-18 school year.
In 2018, the school will add a Grade 7 French immersion classroom and will expand its program to Grade 8 in fall 2019.
Facci has extensive experience with the dual-track program, spending the last eight years in public division – the last two at École Forest Grove School.
“French immersion is growing in our division and across the city,” she said, adding the demand mirrors changes in Saskatoon.
“We’re honouring what exists already and as our population continues to grow, and become more diverse, we’re starting to embrace different cultures and we’re becoming more global.”
Facci noted students who grow as French language learners, also continue to develop skills in English.
She said a lot of students have parents who don’t speak French, and so children are encouraged to keep speaking and reading in their first language.
École Dundonald School will only know on registration day, Sept. 5, how many students will enroll for French immersion.
There are currently six other dual-track elementary schools offering the parallel English and French streams: École Alvin Buckwold School, École College Park School, École Forest Grove School, École Lakeview, École River Heights and École Victoria.
One elementary school, École Henry Kelsey, offers a single-track French immersion program.
Greater Saskatoon Public Schools offer French immersion programs at more than a dozen schools, at various levels.
Saskatoon’s late French immersion programs are only offered through the public schools division at École Alvin Buckwold School, École Forest Grove School and École Henry Kelsey.
Late French Immersion is a long–term program, which begins in Grade 6 and continues through to Grade 12.
– With files from the Saskatoon Public Schools Division website.