Alternative French Language Programs (including French Immersion)

Education Act, Sections 17, 19

According to section 17 of the Education Act, a board may authorize the use of French or any other language as a language of instruction. Since French is one of Canada’s two official languages, learning French is considered important to enhance opportunities for living and working throughout Canada and the world, as well as to foster a greater understanding between French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians. Alberta Education encourages opportunities for all Alberta students to learn French by making available alternative French language programs (including French immersion) and related services, under section 19 of the Education Act.

Boards offering alternative French language programs (including French immersion and French as a second language course sequences) shall implement these programs and courses in a manner consistent with provincial requirements.

For information on Federal French Language Funding managed by Official Languages in Education Programs (Alberta Education), see Section F of the Funding Manual for School Authorities.

Hours of Instruction for French Immersion Programs

Research and experience have clearly demonstrated that student proficiency in the French language is strongly correlated to the amount of time during which French is used as the language of instruction. Recognizing that many local factors may determine the time allocated to instruction in the French language, Alberta Education recommends the following ranges as supportive of the objectives of French immersion programming:

Kindergarten: 100%
Grades 1 – 2: 90% – 100%
Grades 3 – 6: 70% – 80%
Grades 7 – 9: 50% – 80%
Grades 10 – 12: 40% – 80%

French as a Second Language Course Sequences

French as a second language (FSL) course sequences provide elementary, junior high and senior high students with the opportunity to learn French. At the elementary and junior high levels, French as a second language courses are often taught for 30 to 40 minutes a day. Senior high school FSL courses are awarded 5 credits per successfully completed course.

There are two course sequences available that allow students to begin their study of French: the nine-year French as a second language program of studies and the three-year French as a second language program of studies. The goal of the nine-year (9Y) FSL course sequence is to develop students’ communicative abilities and linguistic, cultural and strategic knowledge in French. Upon completion of the nine-year (9Y) course sequence in high school, students are able to communicate personal messages using a variety of language structures while demonstrating understanding of different Francophone cultures.

In the three-year (3Y) course sequence, students are able to communicate basic ideas in a number of situations and have a general understanding of different Francophone cultures.

For information on Federal French Language Funding managed by Official Languages in Education Programs (Alberta Education), see Section F of the Funding Manual for School Authorities.

Elementary and Junior High Schools

The nine-year (9Y) French as a second language program of studies begins in Grade 4 and continues through to Grade 9 and then on to senior high school. This program of studies is a grade-related course sequence and will improve the articulation between elementary and junior high schools. Elementary students entering junior high school should be encouraged to continue their study of French.

Junior high school principals may offer senior high school French 10-3Y as a second language course for credit to junior high school students who have no previous experience in French. For more information on offering French 10-3Y for credit at a junior high school, see Senior High School Courses and Credits for Junior High School Students in the Student Placement and Promotion section.

Senior High Schools

Both nine-year (9Y) and three‑year (3Y) FSL course sequences are available. When students enter senior high school, they are to be placed in FSL courses that correspond to their levels of proficiency in FSL. Students who are coming from junior high school with the requisite skills, knowledge and attitudes outlined in the Grade 9 French course are to be registered in French 10-9Y; students with no prior experience in French are to be registered in French 10‑3Y.

The following course sequence is still available:

  • French 31a
  • French 31b
  • French 31c

Languages Other than French or English

Provincial programs for First Nations, Métis and Inuit languages and international languages available from Kindergarten to Grade 12 are outlined in the following chart:

First Nations, Métis and Inuit and International Languages Provincial Programs Available from Kindergarten to Grade 12

Locally developed courses are available for additional international language and culture, international bilingual, and First Nations, Métis and Inuit language and culture programs.
  Blackfoot Cree Arabic Chinese German Italian Japanese Latin Punjabi Spanish Ukrainian
Bilingual Programming: Language Arts
School authorities determine the other subject areas/senior high school courses to be delivered in the language of choice and determine instructional time.                      
Language and Culture programs of study available:
Twelve-year Language and Culture (12Y) program (Kindergarten to Grade 12)                      
Nine-year Language and Culture (9Y) program (Grade 4 to Grade 12)                      
Six-year Language and Culture (6Y) program (Grade 7 to Grade 12)                      
Three-year Language and Culture (3Y) program (Grade 10 to Grade 12)                      

Bilingual Programs

Education Act, Sections 17, 19

According to section 17 of the Education Act, a board may authorize the use of a language other than English or French as a language of instruction.

Section 19 of the Education Act allows a board to offer an alternative program that emphasizes a particular language and culture, if the board determines there is sufficient demand.

A bilingual program (partial immersion) means a program in which a language other than French or English is used as a language of instruction, to a maximum of 50% of the instructional day. In offering bilingual (partial immersion) programs, boards

  • must ensure that students also have the opportunity to acquire competence in all English language arts skills to meet diploma or certificate requirements
  • have the responsibility of deciding the amount of time needed in all subject areas from Kindergarten to Grade 12, provided the instructional time is consistent with the direction in the Guide

School authorities will determine the balance of subjects for bilingual programming. For more information, refer to the School Administrator’s Guide to Implementing Language Programming.

Arabic language arts (Kindergarten to Grade 12), Chinese language arts (Kindergarten to Grade 12), German language arts (Kindergarten to Grade 12), Spanish language arts (Kindergarten to Grade 12) and Ukrainian language arts (Kindergarten to Grade 12) programs of study are available provincially. School authorities wishing to develop a language arts program in a language other than English or French should consult The Common Curriculum Framework for Bilingual Programming in International Languages, Kindergarten to Grade 12: Western Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Basic Education.

For more information, contact the High School Careers (K–12), Arts & Wellness, Languages and Locally Developed Courses Branch. For contact information, see Appendix 1.

First Nations, Métis and Inuit Language and Culture Courses

A First Nations, Métis or Inuit language and culture course is one in which a First Nations, Métis or Inuit language is studied as a subject for the purpose of developing communication skills and cultural awareness. Alberta Education currently offers a variety of language and culture course sequences for Blackfoot and Cree, or school authorities may develop or acquire First Nations, Métis and Inuit language and culture courses as locally developed courses.

With the advice and input of First Nations and Métis Elders, community experts and teachers, Alberta Education has also developed a First Nations, Métis and Inuit Language and Culture Twelve-year (K–12) Program Template (PDF, 666 KB) to assist school authorities in the development of course outlines for local language and culture course series.

Locally developed First Nations, Métis and Inuit language and culture courses must be consistent with The Common Curriculum Framework for Aboriginal Language and Culture Programs, Kindergarten to Grade 12: Western Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Basic Education (PDF, 1.1 MB).

For more information on locally developed courses, see the Locally Developed Courses section.

International Language and Culture Courses

School authorities may choose to offer either a provincial language and culture program of studies or a locally developed language and culture course series. An international language and culture course is one in which an international language is studied as a subject for the purpose of developing communication skills and cultural awareness.

The most current information regarding provincial international language and culture programs of study and support resources is available on Alberta.ca. For senior high school course sequences, refer to the international languages section of Provincially Authorized Senior High School Courses and Course Codes.

For more information about guidelines and requirements regarding local language programming, contact the High School Careers (K–12), Arts & Wellness, Languages and Locally Developed Courses Branch. For contact information, see Appendix 1. Further information on international language and culture courses is also available in the School Administrator’s Guide to Implementing Language Programming.

Locally Developed Language Courses

Locally developed international language courses (e.g., language arts or language and culture courses) must be consistent with the appropriate framework within The Common Curriculum Frameworks for International Languages (see the General folder). Locally developed First Nations, Métis and Inuit language and culture courses must be consistent with The Common Curriculum Framework for Aboriginal Language and Culture Programs, Kindergarten to Grade 12: Western Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Basic Education (PDF, 1.1 MB).

For information on submitting locally developed courses to Alberta Education, see the Locally Developed Courses section below.

For more information, contact the High School Careers (K–12), Arts & Wellness, Languages and Locally Developed Courses Branch. For contact information, see Appendix 1.