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Category Archives: News

March Break Camp Pictures

FrancoZone held it’s March Break French immersion day camp from March 22 to March 27, The Calgary Board of Education’s Spring Break dates.

Children participated in exciting activities, such as making Lego robotics, cooking, sports, painting flower pots and planting seeds in them, photography and much, much more.

Here is a sampling of photos that shows what the children did during the day:


2015-03-26 15.03.51-1Nigel facePizzaRobotics

Upcoming French activities in Calgary

Here are a few interesting upcoming French activities happening in the Calgary area.

On March 14, Wild Wild West will be hosting a cabane à sucre (sugar shack) from 2pm. The cost for children ages 3 to 11 is $27.50 and for 12 years old and older is $37.50. Children 2 years old and younger eat for free. They are located at: 67 Commercial Crescent, Calgary.

Canadian Parents for French is also offering a series of workshops for Parents of Students in French Immersion. These workshops are intended to make parents aware of the tools available to them to help their children succeed in the French Immersion and Extended French programs. This session would also be useful if you are thinking of sending your child to early French immersion. Each session runs from 6:30-7:30.

Tuesday April 21: Chinook Park School

Address: 1312-75 Ave SW


Wednesday April 22: Sundance School

Address: 200 Sunmills Drive SE


Thursday April 23: Sam Livingstone School

Address: 12001 Bonaventure Drive SE

(Legislative) bilingualism in Alberta?

This is the second post about language rights. Today the Supreme Court of Canada is hearing a case that, if successful, would require all legislation in Alberta to be published in both French and English. It is interesting to note that the same type of case concerning Manitoba and Saskatchewan went to the Supreme Court in the late 1980s. Manitoba had to translate all legislation, though Saskatchewan was not required to.

It is also important to note that full bilingualism is not at issue; instead, the appellants are seeking a more narrow form of legislative bilingualism. This would mean that all laws would have to be published in English and French – services would not have to be provided in both languages.

Essentially, the appellants argue that Alberta joined Canada after the Queen promised that “all your civil […] rights will be respected” (in what was called the Royal Proclamation of 1869). There are two questions: (1) do “civil rights” (“droits acquis” in French) include legislative bilingualism? And (2), if so, is the Royal Proclamation a Constitutional document? The case is further complicated by the fact that, when Manitoba joined Confederation, it clearly provided that all laws had to be published in both languages (section 23 of the Manitoba Act). However, there is no analogue section in the Alberta Act.

The Supreme Court usually takes about 7-10 months to release a decision. It will be interesting to see if Alberta will have to hire a few translators for the fall.

French versus French Immersion at the Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada has recently heard a case involving the Government of Yukon versus the French school board (la commission scolaire district #23). For those interested in French immersion, it is an interesting case to follow.

There are many issues at play but the most significant for the purposes of French immersion is the following: The French school board of Yukon alleges that the government redirected just under 2 million dollars from funds earmarked for the French school to French immersion programs offered by the English schools.

Another interesting issue is who gets to control access to minority language education (in this case, French as a first language): the government or school board? If the right to access minority language education is interpreted narrowly, then the population of the minority language will not greatly increase thereby potentially threatening that culture. If, on the other hand, the right to access minority language education is interpreted too broadly, non-francophones (in this case) could have access to the school and, essentially, transform a French school into a French immersion program. This could also significantly impact on the survival of that culture.

There has also been much made of Québec’s intervention in the case. It takes the position of the narrow definition for the simple reason that if the broad definition is accepted outside Québec (i.e. more people can access French as a first language schools), then more non-anglophones can access English schools in Québec. In order to maintain the predominately French culture of Québec, governments have been reticent in allowing access to English schools. It’s legal position is that (1) school boards do not have a constitutional right to decide criteria for admission to schools of the minority language and (2) broadening the criteria for admission to minority language schools without (provincial/territorial) government consent would require a constitutional amendment of section 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It usually takes the Supreme Court of Canada about 7-10 months to deliver decisions, so the outcome should be known by fall.

Resources for parents of French immersion students

Learning another language can often be frustrating. Learning in another language is almost always so. But it is also immensely rewarding. At school, your child has access to knowledgeable teachers and other school staff to help when needed. You may also use a private tutor bridge any gaps to fully understanding the material.

A common problem for parents, though, is how to help your child with homework, or even just understanding things your child’s teacher writes. To help parents with this, FrancoZone offers courses specifically designed for parents of French immersion students. If interested, simply contact us.

Below are some other helpful resources for parents:


  1. Canadian Parents for French: an excellent organization organized for and by parents with an interest in their children’s knowledge of French.
  2. University of Calgary’s Counseling Service for Parents of Bilingual Children: a good place for advise from experts from the University of Calgary.
  3. The Société de la petite enfance et de la famille du Sud de l’Alberta: offers educational programing in French. It is also a good place to meet other francophones/francophiles.
  4. The Centre de Ressources Francothèque: offers access to various media forms (DVDs, books, games, and even activities) all in French.

Understanding the DELF Exam

In recent years, French Immersion programs around the country have been slowly but steadily adopting the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (abbreviated as CEFR). As the name suggests, the framework was adopted in Europe where, because of their dense population and close proximity to different languages, the Europeans have a far stronger tradition in learning and teaching multiple languages.

The common framework has the benefit of streamlining language education across jurisdictions so that evaluations and credentials are widely recognized. The DELF exam (diplôme d’études en langue française) is the exam of the CEFR and is internationally recognized. It is therefore important to understand and, eventually, to take the exam. Although it is internationally recognized, it is not (yet) recognized by the government of Canada for language proficiency qualifications. The federal government uses its own test based classifies results into three categories: A, B or C.

The DELF exam is classified in the following levels: A1, A2, B1, B2 and, C1, C2 (A1 being the most beginner level and C2 the most advanced). The Calgary Board of Education offers the exam free of charge to enrolled students, whereas the Alliance Française offers the exam to the wider public for a fee. The importance of the exam is such that most universities in Canada offer it. For the University of Calgary, here is the information.

The benefits of cooking classes for kids


Getting kids to eat well has long been a struggle for parents. After a long day of work it can be hard to come home and make a meal that Jamie Oliver would be proud of. On the school front, things are not much better. In (Calgary) Alberta, like most provinces in Canada, physical education time is being eaten up (for give the term) by math, science literacy and all the other “important” subjects. To be sure, literacy and numeracy are extremely important, but so is healthy eating. Moreover, school cafeteria food is often not the most healthy and vending machines (selling all the bad stuff) are pervasive in (Calgary) Alberta schools.

What is a parent to do? Send your kids to cooking school! The CBC’s flagship news program, The National, recently did a segment on the benefits of cooking courses for kids. These courses could have long-lasting impacts on the kids that are fortunate enough to benefit from them. Despite the research, there is also a great deal of common sense here. When you (a) understand an activity, in this case cooking, and (b) associate the activity with positive experience, surely you are more likely to try it again. Lucky for you, we offer such cooking classes. Best of all, the cooking classes are geared towards a French Immersion clientele, so you learn cooking and speaking!

Check out FrancoZone‘s  cooking classes and register your kid today!

The benefits of bilingualism


Bilingualism has already been associated with delayed  dementia, better memory, and other benefits. In a recent study, researchers found that bilinguals were better able to answer difficult questions when there was distracting noise around them. Interestingly, there was almost no difference between unilinguals and ‘bilinguals’ who only possessed a passable understanding of the other language, infrequently used. The more frequently a person switches between languages, the bigger the better a person was able to focus their mind on the task and answer questions.

Although specific causation is always difficult to determine, some researchers posit that bilinguals tend to be better at focusing because they have more practice doing it. For a bilingual, each word spoken or heard has at least two labels (one in each language)  and one label (i.e. language) must be suppressed in favour of the other. By having to constantly concentrate and choose the most meaningful labels, bilinguals have more practice and seem to be better at focusing their minds when distractions abound. As the number of distractions continue to grow, the ability to focus the mind will become increasingly important.

Here is an interesting article by The Economist that succinctly summarizes the research on the benefits of bilingualism.