Core French_Introduction

Core French

Introduction

The redesigned Core French curriculum presents what students are expected to know, do, and understand in Grades 5 through 12. It provides a framework for teachers to engage students in learning experiences through which they can become proficient users of French, gain new perspectives, and engage with Francophone communities.
 

Features of the Core French curriculum

Integration of components

The redesigned Core French curriculum represents an integrated approach to language acquisition. In this approach, the following components of language acquisition are viewed as interconnected rather than in isolation:
  • Reading, writing, listening, speaking, and interacting — These essential competencies are the foundation of language acquisition. As they rarely exist in isolation in authentic communication contexts, they are integrated throughout the redesigned curriculum. Each element of the curriculum supports the simultaneous development of multiple competencies.
  • Grammar — With a focus on the purposeful use of language to communicate meaning, the redesigned curriculum views grammatical instruction as playing a supportive role.
  • Culture — Language is inextricably bound to culture. Culture is a vehicle for acquiring a deeper understanding of a given language, of others, and of oneself. Authentic communication always takes place in a cultural context, and language acquisition activities in the classroom must therefore be situated within such a context. As students explore French and the Francophone world, they simultaneously acquire both the language and an understanding of the many varieties of Francophone culture and the relationship between the two, contributing to their appreciation of other cultures as well as their own.
  • Language-learning strategies — Language-learning strategies are seen as a vehicle for helping students succeed in their language acquisition journey and are integrated throughout the curriculum.

Flexible teaching and learning

The Core French curriculum allows for instructional flexibility. For example, the curriculum components can be combined in different ways to provide a diverse range of learning opportunities. Within each grade, there are multiple ways to combine Content, Curricular Competencies, and Big Ideas to create lessons, units, and learning experiences. The curriculum encourages the use of a range of approaches that support language instruction and acquisition.

Use of a wide variety of text types

The Core French curriculum encourages the use of a wide variety of text types. “Text” in the Core French curriculum is defined as any piece of oral, visual, or written communication. Texts may be delivered through many different modes, such as face-to-face communication, audio and video recordings, print materials, or digital media. Examples of texts include but are not limited to:
 
advertisements, articles, biographies, blogs, brochures, cartoons, charts, conversations, diagrams, emails, essays, films, First Peoples oral histories, forms, graphs, instructions, interviews, invitations, legends, letters, myths, narratives, news reports, novels, nursery rhymes, online profiles, paintings, photographs, picture books, poems, presentations, songs, speeches, stories, surveys, and text messages
 
Teachers are encouraged to use a wide range of grade-appropriate text types in their classrooms.
 
Teachers may choose to use authentic or adapted Francophone texts with their students. Purposes for using adapted texts include:
  • to increase student comprehension (e.g., by simplifying the text)
  • to increase student exposure to target vocabulary and patterns (e.g., by repeating key vocabulary or grammatical structures throughout a text)
  • to increase the saliency of high-frequency vocabulary and patterns (e.g., by underlining, bolding, or highlighting)

Infusing Aboriginal content and perspectives

The Ministry of Education is dedicated to ensuring that the cultures and contributions of Aboriginal peoples in BC are reflected in all provincial curricula.

First Peoples Principles of Learning

The First Peoples Principles of Learning (Les principes d’apprentissage des Peuples Autochtones) have been affirmed within First Peoples societies to guide the teaching and learning of provincial curricula. Because these principles of learning represent an attempt to identify common elements in the varied teaching and learning approaches that prevail within particular First Peoples societies, it must be recognized that they do not capture the full reality of the approach used in any single First Peoples society.
 
The First Peoples Principles of Learning greatly influence the Core French curriculum and are woven throughout. They lend themselves well to second-language learning as they promote experiential and reflexive learning, as well as self-advocacy and personal responsibility in learners. They help create classroom experiences based on the concepts of community, shared learning, and trust, all of which are vital to second-language acquisition.

Working with the Aboriginal community

To address Aboriginal content and perspectives in the classroom in a way that is accurate and that respectfully reflects Aboriginal concepts of teaching and learning, teachers are strongly encouraged to seek the advice and support of members of local Aboriginal communities. As Aboriginal communities are diverse in terms of language, culture, and available resources, each community will have its own unique protocol to gain support for integration of local knowledge and expertise. Permission for the use or translation of cultural materials or practises should be obtained through consultation with individuals, families and other community members. This authorization should be obtained prior to the use of any educational plans or materials.
 
To begin discussion of possible instructional and assessment activities, teachers should first contact Aboriginal education co-ordinators, teachers, support workers, and counsellors in their district who will be able to facilitate the identification of local resources and contacts such as Elders, chiefs, First Nations tribal or band councils, Aboriginal cultural centres, Aboriginal Friendship Centres, and Métis or Inuit organizations. In addition, teachers may wish to consult the various Ministry of Education publications available, including the “Planning Your Program” section of the resource Shared Learnings. This resource was developed to help all teachers provide students with knowledge of, and opportunities to share experiences with, Aboriginal peoples in BC.
 
For more information about these documents, consult the Aboriginal Education web site: www.bced.gov.bc.ca/abed/welcome.htm

Authentic Texts and Resources

In order to present authentic First Peoples content and worldviews, it is important to draw from Aboriginal learning and teaching resources. Authentic First Peoples texts and resources are those that:

  • present authentic First Peoples voices—i.e., historical and contemporary texts created by First Peoples (or through the substantial contributions of First Peoples)
  • depict themes and issues important to First Peoples cultures (e.g., loss of identity and affirmation of identity, tradition, healing, role of family, importance of Elders, connection to the land, the nature and place of spirituality as an aspect of wisdom, the relationships between individual and community, the importance of oral tradition, the experience of colonization and decolonization)
  • incorporate First Peoples story-telling techniques and features as applicable (e.g., circular structure, repetition, weaving in of spirituality, humour)
Due to the diversity of Aboriginal communities in BC, Canada and the world, and the need to provide a relevant context to classroom instruction and assessment, it is suggested that resource selection focuses primarily on First Peoples texts and resources from the local community wherever possible.  

Benefits beyond linguistic ability

The Core French curriculum supports the principle that Core French students gain not only the ability to communicate effectively in French but also many other benefits, including:
  • improved overall cognitive development and creative thinking
  • the development of cultural awareness and understanding
  • a deepened understanding of their own identity
  • an enhanced understanding of their first language
  • language-learning strategies that can be transferred to additional languages

Design of the Core French curriculum

The redesigned Core French curriculum follows the same format as in all other areas of learning and is based on the Know-Do-Understand model of learning. Students learn through Content (Know), Curricular Competencies (Do), and Big Ideas (Understand). 

Content

Content represents the core knowledge students will have — what they are expected to “Know.” In language acquisition, Content represents the pieces students must have to be able to use the language at a given grade level (i.e., to apply the Curricular Competencies). In each grade, each of the Content learning standards support multiple Curricular Competencies (the “Do” component of the curriculum). The following is an example of the interrelationship between Content and Curricular Competencies:

Grade 7

Curricular Competencies

  • Use intonation and tone effectively to convey meaning in French
  • Seek clarification of meaning with a variety of statements and questions
  • Follow instructions to complete a task, including responding to questions or asking relevant follow-up questions
  • Exchange ideas and information using complete sentences, orally and in writing:
    -Ask and answer questions in context
  • Share information using more than one mode of presentation

Content

  • Common, high-frequency vocabulary and sentence structures for communicating meaning:
    – Asking and responding to different types of questions
 
Students build on their Content knowledge from year to year. Some Content learning standards appear over more than one year because they may take longer to fully acquire or they may support increasingly complex Curricular Competencies. When identical Content learning standards appear across multiple grades, Elaborations further clarify how deeply the Content learning standard is expected to be covered at each grade. The examples below illustrate how the curriculum grows with students and expands the scope and depth of learning.
 
  5 7 9 11 12
Content asking and responding to simple questions asking and responding to different types of questions asking and responding to various types of questions asking and responding to complex questions asking and responding to a wide range of complex questions
Elaboration
simple questions: 
for example, Comment…?; Est-ce que…?; Où…?; Quand…?; Quel…?; 
Qu’est-ce que…?; Qui…?
different types of questions: 
for example, Combien…?; Comment…?; Est-ce que…?; Où…?; Pourquoi…?; Quand…?; Quel…?; Qu’est-ce que…?; Qui…?
various types 
of questions: including inversion questions; 
for example, 
As-tu un crayon?; Va-t-il au cinéma?; 
Aimez-vous ce livre? 
   
 

Curricular Competencies

Curricular Competencies are what students should be able to “Do” with their Content knowledge. Language acquisition is very process-driven, and “Doing” plays an important role. Since the goal is proficiency in using the language rather than learning about the language, more elements are included in the Curricular Competencies column of the Core French curriculum than in the Content column. Through purposeful communication in class, learners develop competencies in listening to understand, communicating effectively, presenting their ideas in French with confidence and fluency, and understanding the connections between language and culture.
 
Students also build on their Curricular Competencies from year to year. The example below illustrates how the curriculum grows with students and expands the scope and depth of learning.
 
  5 7 8 9 10
Curricular
Competencies
Understand simple stories Understand simple stories

Understand and retell stories

Narrate simple stories

Narrate stories

Recognize the importance of story in personal, family, and community identity

Narrate stories orally and in writing

Recognize the importance of story in personal, family, and community identity
  Definition of stories: stories can be oral, written, or visual, and fictional or non-fictional (for example, a series of pictures, First Peoples oral histories, personal stories, skits, student-created stories).

Big Ideas

The Big Ideas are generalizations and principles discovered through experiencing the Content
and Curricular Competencies of the curriculum — the “Understand” component of the Know-Do-Understand model of learning. Big Ideas represent the “aha!” and the “so what?” of the curriculum — the deeper learning.

From year to year, students discover new Big Ideas and also build on the Big Ideas from previous years. The example below, concerning the theme of culture, illustrates how the curriculum grows with students and expands the scope and depth of learning as students progress through the grades.

 

5

7

8

10

12

 Big Ideas

Each culture has traditions and ways of celebrating.

Deepening our knowledge of Francophone communities helps us develop cultural awareness.

Acquiring a new language and learning about another culture deepens our understanding of our own language and culture.

Acquiring a language provides us with new opportunities to appreciate and value creative works and cultural diversity.

Experiencing the creative works of other cultures helps us develop our appreciation of cultures worldwide.

Elaborations

Elaborations have been provided (as hyperlinks) in many places throughout the curriculum.
They offer additional clarification and support for teachers, including definitions, examples, and information regarding the depth and breadth to which topics should be covered at a given grade. Examples provided in the elaborations are not intended to be comprehensive lists of what must be covered in a given grade; they are simply examples. Elaborations may be particularly useful to teachers who are new to teaching Core French.

Important Considerations

Diverse contexts

Throughout British Columbia, students learn French in many contexts. Schools where Core French is offered are organized in different ways — for example, K–5, 6–9, and 10–12, or K–7 and 8–12. Schools also allocate different amounts of time for Core French, and some include programs such as Intensive French.1 These contexts affect staffing and the types and amounts of resources and supports available to teachers and students. As well, Core French teachers range from beginning generalists to highly experienced specialists. Although these diverse factors may result in variations in instruction, the flexibility of the Core French curriculum is designed to support teachers and learners in a wide range of contexts.

Language of instruction

It is important that French be used as the language of instruction for the Core French curriculum. As French is a minority language in British Columbia, opportunities for students to use the language outside the classroom are likely to be limited. Research shows that increasing exposure to and use of the target language is essential to increasing proficiency. Therefore, while it is also understood that students at times may need some discussions or examples in English, both teachers and students are encouraged to use French at every opportunity.

Engaging with the wider Francophone community

In language education, all aspects of learning are enriched when students engage with members of the target language community. Engagement with Francophone communities, people, or experiences can mean different things in different contexts. It may include, for example, inviting community members into the classroom (in person or virtually); making connections with other French classes and schools; attending festivals, films, concerts, plays, and other cultural and community events; frequenting stores, restaurants, and community centres where French is used; and interacting with the online Francophone community through blogs, chats, and other forms of social media. Teachers are encouraged to provide a variety of these experiences for their students. Students, particularly in the upper grades, are also encouraged to seek and initiate engagement with Francophone communities, people, or experiences to help build their identity as French speakers and to foster opportunities to continue their acquisition of French beyond graduation.

Language education policy

Ministry of Education policy states that all students must take a second language as part of the curriculum in Grades 5 to 8. Boards of education decide which second languages will be offered. Core French will be the language offered if a board does not offer an alternative.

A student may be exempt from the taking a second language in Grades 5 to 8 if the student has been identified as having special needs or is receiving English Language Learner (ELL) services and is unable to demonstrate learning in relation to the expected learning outcomes of the second language course.

Although ministry policy states that students identified as having special needs or receiving ELL services may be exempted from second-language study, not all students so identified should be exempted. For some students, the study of a second-language study enhances their first-language development and thus can be beneficial for students with special needs. English Language Learners (ELL) also may benefit from being included in the Core French classroom, as many of them have already mastered language-learning strategies, and Core French may be the only area of learning in which they feel they are able to perform as well as their non-ELL classmates. For these students, acquiring French can provide a sense of confidence and pride.


1Intensive French can be considered an extension of Core French. In British Columbia, the program starts at Grade 6 with four hours daily of French instruction for half the year and the fifth hour dedicated to math taught in English. For the other half of the year, students receive one hour of French instruction per day, and the rest of the week is dedicated to a compacted curriculum of all other studies in English. French is taught using literacy strategies around familiar topics. Taught in many provinces across Canada, and in school districts around British Columbia, Intensive French uses a methodology based on the neurolinguistic approach and on research by Dr. Claude Germain and Dr. Joan Netton.

Last updated: June 22, 2016