French as a Second Language

What are some of the benefits of learning French as a Second Language (FSL)?

As one of Canada's two official languages, FSL is taught in Ontario's English-language school boards. Students have significant advantages when they speak more than one language. Learning another language helps students:

  • strengthen their problem-solving, reasoning and creative thinking skills
  • develop their understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures
  • increase their competitiveness in an increasingly global job market
  • enhance their first-language and overall literacy skills

In addition to providing a foundation for the learning of additional languages and the potential for more opportunities to participate in an increasingly globalized economy, learning FSL helps Ontario students to understand Canada's history and to develop an appreciation of French culture.

What are the requirements?
Since French is one of Canada's two official languages, students in Ontario's publicly funded English-language schools are required to:

  • study FSL from Grades 4 to 8, and
  • earn at least one credit in FSL in secondary school to obtain the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

Who can take FSL programs?
FSL programs are for all students in English-language boards, including students with special needs and English language learners. Directions for planning the delivery of curriculum to students with special education needs are included in all curriculum policy documents, including those for FSL.

What are the FSL programs in Ontario?

  • Core French – Students learn French as a subject. At the elementary level, students must accumulate a minimum of 600 hours of French instruction by the end of Grade 8. At the secondary level, academic, applied and open courses are offered for Grades 9 and 10; university preparation and open courses are offered for Grades 11 and 12.
  • Extended French – Students learn French as a subject and French serves as the language of instruction in at least one other subject. At the elementary level, at least 25 per cent of all instruction is provided in French. At the secondary level, academic courses are offered for Grades 9 and 10; university preparation courses are offered for Grades 11 and 12. In the Extended French program, students accumulate seven credits in French: four are FSL language courses and three are other subjects in which French is the language of instruction.
  • French Immersion – Students learn French as a subject and French serves as the language of instruction in two or more other subjects. At the elementary level, at least 50 per cent of all instruction is provided in French. At the secondary level, academic and applied courses are offered for Grades 9 and 10; university preparation and open courses are offered for Grades 11 and 12. In the French Immersion program, students accumulate ten credits in French: four are FSL language courses and six are other subjects in which French is the language of instruction.

Student's proficiency in French increases based on the amount of time and the level of intensity of instruction in French. The three FSL programs help students develop an appreciation of the language and French culture in Canada and the world.

School boards have the option of offering Extended French and French Immersion programs based on local demands and resources. Decisions to establish these programs and their structure (e.g. point of entry), are made by the local school board. Students in these programs are not in the Core French program.

What is the Framework for FSL?
cover page A Framework for French as a Second Language in Ontario Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12 was released in February 2013, as an overarching strategic ten-year document that serves as a call to action and a guide to strengthen FSL programming through the cohesive efforts of educators, students, parents and communities.

Read the framework for FSL in Ontario schools:

The Framework articulates:

  • The Vision for FSL in Ontario

    Students in English-language school boards have the confidence and ability to use French effectively in their daily lives.
  • The Goals for FSL in Ontario
    1. Increase student confidence, proficiency, and achievement in FSL.
    2. Increase the percentage of students studying FSL until graduation.
    3. Increase student, educator, parent, and community engagement in FSL.
    The framework also provides answers to questions parents have about FSL (PDF, 736 KB)

Including Students with Special Education Needs in French as a Second Language Programs: A Guide for Ontario Schools
This document serves as a companion to the Framework for FSL by providing additional research, data and examples of inclusive practice. It focuses on ways to make all FSL programs more available to students with special education needs and on the supports these students need to succeed.

Learn More: