French Immersion

British Columbia Ministry of Education Policy Statement for French Immersion

 The K-12 French Immersion Policy:

  • provides information on the Ministry’s goals and objectives for the consistent application of French Immersion programming in the education community;
  • emphasizes the two official entry points for French Immersion; and
  • ensures that students in French Immersion programs are aware of the requirements that must be met to graduate with both a British Columbia Certificate of Graduation (Dogwood Diploma) and a Diploma de fin d’etudes secondaires en Colombie-Britannique).


The Ministry recognizes that French Immersion programming benefits the cognitive and social development of students, as well as their opportunities for career advancement. Research demonstrates that students who successfully complete a French Immersion program attain functional bilingualism while doing as well as, or better than, their unilingual peers in the content areas of curriculum, including English Language Arts.


Under the authority of the School Act, Section 5 (3):

5 (3) Subject to the approval of the minister, a board may permit an educational program to be provided in a language other than as provided under subsections (1) and (2).


It is the policy of the Ministry to support the establishment of French Immersion programs within the public school system. French Immersion programs parallel the regular English program in structure and content.  The major goal of French Immersion is to provide the opportunity for non-francophone students to become bilingual in English and French.

Bilingualism is achieved by providing instruction of the basic curriculum entirely in French during the first years. Once a firm base in French has been established, instruction in English language arts is added, and instruction in the English language gradually increases. Students continue to receive instruction in certain subjects in French so that by the end of Grade 12 proficiency is achieved in both languages.

School districts are encouraged to offer French Immersion programs. Once a French Immersion program has been established, districts should develop policy that will serve to maintain and strengthen the program.

In order to ensure the delivery of effective French Immersion programs, school districts should develop policies that are consistent with Ministry policy. French Immersion is a separate program where instruction is offered in the French language for second language learners. It is not intended to be combined with Programme francophone which is a program for first language learners.

Having established a program, school districts should promote the program and recruit students. Should the enrollment become insufficient, school districts should consult parents to find solutions. If there is no resolution to the problem, the district should give at least one year’s notice to parents of any changes contemplated to permit full discussion and to allow parents time to consider alternatives for their children.


Languages of Instruction

French Immersion programs shall consist of instruction in English and French.

Pupil Eligibility

Kindergarten to Grade 12 students in the British Columbia school system are eligible to enter an immersion program at the appropriate entry points, if the program has been made available and if there is space at the appropriate grade, subject to the registration policies of the school district in which the student resides.

Curriculum and resources are provided by the Ministry for Early French Immersion (K-12) and Late French Immersion (6-12) programs.

These programs are differentiated according to point of entry and are as follows:

Entry Point
Early FI
K (and1)
Late FI

Therefore, if a school district offers Early French Immersion, it must be available at the Kindergarten level. Ideally, students enter in Kindergarten, but they may enter in Grade 1 if space is available.

Entry to the program at other than the normal entry points should be considered only if there is adequate space and if the student is adequately proficient in French. Adequate proficiency is defined as sufficient language skill to permit the student to be able to comprehend instruction in the subjects taught in French, assuming a period of 4 to 8 weeks of adjustment to the program.


The content of French Immersion programs shall parallel that of the regular curriculum as set out in Ministeriall Order 295/95 Required Areas of Study in an Educational Program Order.


For students who wish to enrol in a French Immersion program, provincial transportation funding is based on the distance between a student’s residence and the closest school in which there are appropriate grades, whether or not that school offers French Immersion.

School districts are free to develop their own transportation policies. If a district chooses to offer additional transportation services to French Immersion students, additional costs will be funded through the district’s annual provincial funding or by it levying fees to parents of French Immersion students.

Learning Resources and Pupil Services

Having implemented an immersion program, school districts should provide equitable learning resources, library books and student services in the same manner they are provided for in regular English programs.

Financial Support

French Immersion programs are eligible for federal funding. Federal funds are to be used for resources, socio-cultural activities, teacher in-service training and, in the case of small programs, for libraries and learning assistance.

For information on finance, please refer to the current edition of the French Funding Guide: Federal Supplementary Funds.

Teaching Personnel

Language Requirements
In addition to regular certification requirements, teachers in immersion programs should have a high degree of oral and written proficiency in the French language. Teachers should have a sound knowledge of the culture of French-speaking peoples and should also have completed at least one course in immersion methodology.

For the purposes of communication in English within the school and with parents, teachers in these programs are expected to also have a good working knowledge of English.

Secondary Teaching Requirements
Post-secondary training in a particular subject is a minimum criterion for teaching that subject at a secondary level, whether the subject is taught in English or in French.


The administrators of immersion schools should be functionally bilingual; this should be a consideration when districts are seeking new administrators. Whether or not they are bilingual, at the very least, administrators should be knowledgeable about, and supportive of, the immersion program.

Early French Immersion

The Early Immersion program provides students with an education equivalent to that which is available in the English language program, while providing students with the opportunity to acquire a high level of proficiency in French. Students normally enter Early Immersion in Kindergarten (and occasionally in Grade 1) and, upon graduation from the program in Grade 12, should be able to participate easily in conversations in French, take post-secondary courses with French as the language of instruction and/or accept employment with French as the language of the work place.

Proportion of French to English Instruction
In Early FI programs, Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 should be taught totally in French. Beginning in Grade 4 and continuing to Grade 12, English Language Arts shall be provided for all French Immersion students. Other courses may be offered in English: the following chart shows the recommended time allocations:

Grade % of French Instruction % of English Instruction
K-(2 or 3) 100 0
(3 or) 4-7 80 20
8-10 50 – 75 25 – 50
11-12 no less than 25 no more than 75

Primarily for funding purposes, as of September, 1996, the federal standard of 25 per cent minimum instruction in French will be required provincially. A less than 25 per cent time allocation is considered Core French and will be funded accordingly.

Whenever possible, the courses that are conducted in English should be taught by someone other than the regular French Immersion teacher and preferably by a teacher with excellent English skills.

French Immersion – Secondary
To achieve the goals of this program, students should continue in French Immersion through Grade 12.

Where possible, districts should provide some choice of subjects offered in French at the secondary level.

In order to receive the diploma fin d’etudes secondaires en Colombie-Britannique, French Immersion students must meet the requirements as stated in Graduation Credentials for Francophone and French Immersion Students Policy.

Late French Immersion

The Late French Immersion program provides students with an education equivalent to that which is available in the English language program, while providing opportunities to acquire a high level of proficiency in French. Students normally enter Late Immersion in Grade 6 and, upon graduation from the program in Grade 12, should be able to participate easily in French conversations, take post-secondary courses with French as the language of instruction, and accept employment with French as the language of work.

Proportion of French to English Instruction
In Late FI programs, it is recommended that the first year be taught totally in French. In the second year, English Language Arts and other courses taught in English should not exceed 20 per cent of instructional time.

Late French Immersion in the Secondary School
For Grades 8-12, see the French Immersion Secondary section of this policy.

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