The benefits of second language immersion education are well established. Researchers confirm that students who are fluent in several languages develop cognitive and analytical skills that are more advanced than their monolingual peers. Second language immersion education also promotes adaptability, flexibility and creativity, as children are able to toggle between multiple languages according to the environment. This daily multi-language exposure may explain why multilingual students typically receive high marks in academic achievement tests.
France’s renowned École Maternelle has been imitated in many countries. The French preschool is an integrated and essential first phase of the educational system. Maternelle teachers, who have the same college degree as primary teachers, have solid training in child psychology and physical development, as well as education. They teach their young students (three to six years old) learning habits that will be fundamental to their future education.
The main mission of Ecole maternelle is “to give children the desire to go to school to learn and to affirm and develop their personality. This special time establishes the pedagogical foundations on which students’ future education is built. (…) [At Ecole Maternelle,] learning modalities are organized around problem-solving, drills, and memory exercises; play has a special place in learning at this stage. [Ecole Maternelle] also allows children to live and learn, providing a place to begin to acquire the principles of social life and allowing the child to build an identity as an individual in a group. (…)” Each of [the following] five teaching areas is essential to the development of the child and must find its place in students’ daily schedule:
– all types of language usage.
– acting, expressing oneself, understanding through physical activity;
– acting, expressing oneself, understanding through artistic activities;
– starting to develop the tools to structure thoughts;
– exploring the world.
physical and artistic activities helps develop relations between actions, sensations, imagination,
sensitivity, and thought. The time devoted to structuring thoughts and exploring the world
focuses on developing an initial understanding of numbers and mathematical tools, the children’s environment, and encouraging their curiosity. Nursery school helps children to order the world around them, and gives them access to knowledge that they will build on in elementary school.
The education provided at elementary school ensures the acquisition of basic fundamental knowledge tools: oral and written expression, literacy, numeracy and problem solving, and fosters the intellectual development, the artistic sensitivity, manual, physical and sports aptitudes. It provides the elements of a historic, geographic, scientific and technical culture. It offers an education in visual arts and music. It ensures the teaching of a foreign modern language and can include an initiation into cultural diversity. It also contributes to digital and media literacy. It ensures the acquisition and the understanding of the respect due to individuals, for their origins and differences. It also transmits the need to respect children’s rights and gender equality.
Skills, and Culture Students begin acquiring the Common Core in elementary school. Designed to identify the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes necessary for students to be successful in their schooling, personal life, and life as a future active citizen, the Common Core is taught through different pedagogical methods and courses. For example, students will start to develop critical thinking skills in their Moral and Civic education course. The Common Core is taught to students age 6-16, [and] they begin learning about it in elementary school first. **
In elementary school, students are taught several different subjects and disciplines. They learn
French, a modern language, art, music, physical education and sports, moral and civic education, history-geography, and math. Each of these subjects is taught so that students learn not only basic facts and information, but the methodology on how best to learn and engage with this new material. Some skills we strive to develop (…) include: critical thinking, oral and written
comprehension, mathematical and spatial comprehension, reasoning, language learning,
personal and emotional expression, following rules and being responsible, adapting to various
environments, and how to work individually or as a team to achieve certain goals.
Cycle 2 (fundamental learning cycle -grades 1-3)
During Cycle 2 (fundamental learning cycle), priority is given to the mastery of languages. French language constitutes the central learning item for students to acquire strong reading and writing skills. Through language, they learn to make connections between different subjects and disciplines and to give meaning to their instruction. (…) Furthermore, they are taught how to complete basic learning activities and to justify rationally their answers and approaches. Through regular memorization, activities that allow automatic approaches to basic skills, and comprehension activities, they gradually access more complex knowledge.
Cycle 3 (consolidation cycle – grades 4-6)
During Cycle 3, students reinforce and stabilize the base knowledge learned in Cycle 2, particularly language proficiency, which is essential to learning other subjects such as French, mathematics, art and body expression. Students are gradually introduced to academic subjects and their specific knowledge, language, approaches and methods, especially history and geography, science and technology. Their capacity for abstract analysis increases and they begin to produce and structure their thoughts by taking in new knowledge. Schools take into account the different aptitudes of each student. Reasoning and intellectual reflection are developed as well as other skills, such as observation skills, experimentation, sensitivity, motor skills and creative imagination.
6th grade is the last year of Cycle 3 and creates a bridge between elementary and middle school. Beginning with 6th grade, each subject is taught by a specialist whose university training differs from that of colleagues who teach primary grades. There is the equivalent of a homeroom teacher/advisor for each class. In middle school, students begin to learn a third foreign language. Science is expanded to include technology, biology, geology, chemistry and physics. Statistics and functions are added to the mathematics program. Students also study English literature, U.S. and world history, and geography.
At the conclusion of 9th grade, students take the Brevet des Collèges (Middle School Diploma) with 4 written examinations in French, mathematics, history-geography, sciences- and one oral examination.
grades). The curricula are designed and issued by the French Ministry of National Education. Most subjects are taught in French. Over the course and at the end of the 11th première) and 12th (terminale) grades, students sit for a series of extensive national exams, covering all areas of study, which make up the French Baccalauréat. Created in 1808, this diploma possesses two special features: it marks the successful conclusion of secondary studies and opens access to higher education. Courses taken by students in the 11th and 12th grades are taught at the college level. As a result, both Canadian and American colleges and universities often grant college credit to the French Baccalauréat holders on the basis of their performance on the exams. Most of the students in French high schools in the United States have followed a bilingual curriculum (which is accredited by the French Ministry of National Education) from the pre-K level. In addition, they all master a third language since this is one of the Baccalauréat requirements. In the United States, because the majority of French Baccalauréat students are bilingual, French High Schools offer more than one level of English in the standard Baccalauréat program. Students may also elect a different Baccalauréat specialization:
It is entirely different from the International Baccalaureate (IB), which is unrelated to the French educational system. In the OIB, students take two courses and exams in English: OIB American Literature and Language in lieu of the regular English as a foreign language, and OIB History and OIB Geography courses and exams, which cover both the regular French curriculum and a U.S. History curriculum.
The French-American Baccalauréat (FAB) is the synthesis of France’s Baccalauréat and the College Board.s Advanced Placement program. In collaboration with the College Board, the French Ministry of National Education has devised a special diploma recognizing an
excellent mastery of the French language as well as of the English language and American culture. Within the FAB, students take three or four AP courses corresponding to their compulsory elective, in lieu of three corresponding French courses, towards their Baccalauréat.