French at the OCSB

Among the seemingly endless number of decisions parents must make during their child’s education, one of them involves choosing the right French pathway. It can be a complicated decision which is reviewed several times throughout a child’s educational journey — from choosing the right school to deciding which French courses to take in high school.

When it comes to learning French, we aim to equip our students with the ability to communicate beyond our classrooms. Whether in the context of travel, leisure, post-secondary education, part-time, or professional work environments, we share the Ministry of Education’s vision to enable our students to have the confidence and ability to use French effectively in their daily lives.

French pathway options

Your first step to understanding our French pathway options is to explore the offerings. Based on research, consultation, and several years of experience, we are confident in our approach to French education. The results speak for themselves as every year we see highly proficient students graduate from our schools with their French certificate, continuing their studies in French at the post-secondary level, and able to gain valuable work in a competitive job market.

Kindergarten – 50% French for all students in all schools

The French pathway from Kindergarten to Grade 3 is the same for all students, in all of our schools. Our early French immersion program offers play-based learning to kindergarten students in equal amounts of French and English (50%). Our schools may offer half of each day in French language instruction, or half of the week. Learning French in Kindergarten can benefit a child’s ability to excel in other subject areas, such as reading comprehension and math.

Grades 1 to 3 – 25% French for all students in all schools

We purposely provide all of our primary students with a quarter day (25% or 75 minutes) of French language instruction from Grades 1-3 to ensure they develop a strong foundation in the English language. This means your child is not only learning French in their Language Arts class, but they are also receiving French instruction in other subjects as well. This has proven to be very successful. It allows your child to be exposed to French at an early age, while also ensuring they are developing and progressing in English, as well as other important areas of learning, such as numeracy.

​Grades 4 to 12 – Choosing the French Immersion pathway

Although all of our French pathways encourage students to become proficient in the French language, our French Immersion pathway allows your child the most flexibility as they can change to the Extended/Core French pathway easily. If the goal is to pursue the French Immersion pathway in high school, then parents must choose this pathway for their child just before Grade 4 begins. This will ensure they meet the Ministry of Education’s required number of French instruction hours. Students fullfilling the requirement of this pathway will receive a French Immersion Certificate at graduation. This requires that students take:

  • 50% French instruction during Grades 4 to 6
  • 50% of subjects taught in French during Grades 7 & 8
  • 10 courses in French during Grades 9 to 12

French subjects taught in Grades 4 to 6: French Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, Physical Education/Health, Arts (Visual Arts, Music, Drama, Dance)

French subjects taught in Grades 7 & 8: French Language Arts, History/Geography, Physical Education/Health, Religion. For the 2021-2022 school year, Science may be offered in English or French as determined by the school’s administration team. Science will be taught in English at all schools for the 2022-2023 school year and beyond.


Grades 4 to 12 – Choosing the Core French pathway

Our Extended French pathway provides 25% French language instruction in Grades 4 to 6. Students typically enter the Core French program for Grade 7 to 12 if they were following the Extended French pathway, or if they no longer choose to continue on the French Immersion pathway. The Core French pathway allows students to further develop their proficiency in the French language by giving them practical experiences and opportunities to build their confidence, improve comprehension and increase their oral proficiency in French. This pathway will lead to graduates receiving a Core French Certificate. This requires that students take:

  • 25% French instruction during Grades 4 to 6
  • 1 of 8 subjects in French during Grades 7 & 8
  • 4 courses in French during Grades 9 to 12

French subjects taught in Grades 4 to 6: French Language Arts, and Social Studies, and two strands of the Arts

French subjects taught in Grades 7 to 12: French Language Arts

Grades 9 to12 – Immersion French (FIF)

This Immersion program helps students to develop a high degree of fluency in the French language through the study of subjects taught in French and French Language Arts. Cultural elements are integrated in reading, writing and communication activities. Students who successfully complete 10 courses (4 language courses and 6 additional credits) in the French Immersion Program are awarded the French Immersion certificate issued by the Ottawa Catholic School Board.

Please note: A cooperative education placement, linked to a French credit, may be included toward the six (6) additional credits required for the Immersion Certificate.

Grades 9 to 12 – Core French (FSF)

The Core French program consists of one Academic or Applied course of French Language Arts in Grade 9, 10, 11 and 12. In these courses, students improve and reinforce previously acquired language skills in reading, writing and communication. They expand their vocabulary and improve their language skills through varied oral and written activities. Cultural elements are integrated. Students who complete four French language courses, including the Grade 11 and 12 Core French courses, are awarded the Core French certificate issued by the Ottawa Catholic School Board.

The Ontario Ministry of Education stipulates that only one French course is required after Grade 8 in order to earn a high school diploma. Students may end their French pathway journey after taking their last French Language Arts course in Grade 9.

Five strengths of our French program

  1. All of our schools have the same French pathway options for all students, so there is no need to ever transfer schools.
  2. French teachers are highly qualified and genuinely invested in giving students tools and strategies needed to learn in French.
  3. The French pathways allow students to develop a love of French, while giving them time to develop strong English literacy and numeracy skills.
  4. Blended learning in some schools (grouping Extended and French Immersion students together) improves student engagement and collaboration.
  5. All pathways lead to success, and every student is recognized for their French language proficiency, opening doors to new opportunities.