French Immersion and Language Learning Options within the GTA’s Public Schools

Student writing at desk at school

(4-minute read)

By E. Walczak, Workshops & Programming Assistant, Family Care Office, University of Toronto

For parents, caregivers, and families interested in offering French language learning to their children, French immersion programs in the GTA are a great option. French, one of Canada’s official languages, is one of the fastest growing languages in the world and remains one of the official languages of several international institutions like the United Nations. Speaking a second, or third, language is linked to improved cognitive skills and lowered risk of dementia

For official French immersion programs, there are a number of schools that support French language learning in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).  

Toronto District School Board (TDSB)  

Early French Immersion, for Junior Kindergarten, is an option for students born in the year 2020. The application process for the 2024/2025 school year will open on November 6 and close on December 10, 2023. The enrolment for pre-kindergarten French immersion is the only time that parents can register their children for a French immersion program before grade 4. Information on the program can be found within the Toronto District School Board’s information package for parents.

Middle French Immersion is intended for students entering Grade 4 during the 2024/2025 school year. The application opens January 8, 2024 and closes on February 2. Information sessions run weekly, beginning on November 8.

For families who are not looking for French immersion or French language classes for their children, the Toronto District School Board offers alternative programs for over 30 languages. These International Languages-Elementary (ILE) programs are aimed for students aged kindergarten to Grade 8. Classes need 23 students in order to run, so not all programs are guaranteed, but the ILE remains a lower-commitment option for language learning for children.

Peel District School Board  

The Peel School District has three French as a Second Language (FSL) programs: French immersion, Core French, and Extended French. An overview of each program is offered within the Peel School District’s website.

Durham District School Board

Different schools within Durham region offer different tracks for French immersion: Single Track Schools and Dual Track Schools. More information on the tracks, the application process, and school locations can be found within the Durham District School Board’s website.

Halton District School Board  

The only time to register your child for French immersion in the Halton School District is before Grade 2. Parents, caregivers, and guardians of current Grade 1 students can find information about French immersion options within the board’s French immersion Registration Guide. Additional information about French immersion is also available within the Halton District School Board’s website.

Simcoe County District School Board  

The Simcoe School District holds a lottery system for French immersion for students entering Grade 1. Applications for the lottery open in December, and more information about the process may be found on the Simcoe County’s French Immersion program website.

York Region District School Board

The York Region District School Board offers French immersion information nights in January. York region’s French Immersion Program Podcast is another way to access information about their programming. Additional information about the French immersion registration process may also be found on the York Region District School Board’s website.

E. Walczak wishes to thank Krystina, Zein & Shelly from OISE’s Multilingualism and Literacy Lab for the resources they provided regarding supporting children in French language learning environments.