French Second Language

The Yellowknife Catholic School Board offers a wide variety of French programs and services to our students. Find out more about these programs and see how they can benefit your child.

  • Early French Immersion
  • Late French Immersion
  • Bilingual Junior Kindergarten Program
  • French as a Second Language
  • French Advanced Placement
  • DELF Scolaire

Early French Immersion

Early French Immersion is a language program designed for non-French speaking students who wish to attain a high level of proficiency in both official languages. Students are immersed in the French language within the classroom. French is used for instruction in the subject (content) areas such as Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Physical Education and French Language Arts as well as in the school environment.

This program is available to all children in Yellowknife. Knowledge of the French language is not a requirement to enroll in the program; children from a wide variety of backgrounds, interests and abilities are enrolled in the program. Yellowknife Catholic Schools offers an Early French Immersion Program.

The Early French Immersion program is designed to immerse students in the French language in a school environment where all subject areas (K – 2) are taught in French. (The French language component is 80% from Grade 3 – 8 and 50% from grade 9-12). All students successfully completing 50% of their course offerings in French will receive a bilingual certificate.

Students progress together developing their French language skills over time as they move through their elementary and secondary school years. Therefore, there are only two entry points for students who are interested in a French Immersion experience: Kindergarten and Grade 1.

The goal of The Yellowknife Catholic School Board is to produce well-educated bilingual students. Students in the program achieve a level of learning in all subject areas equivalent to that achieved by students in the English program. French Immersion students develop strong communication skills in both French and English. They develop a knowledge and understanding about the structure of language that will enable them to learn other languages more easily. Furthermore, French Immersion students develop a positive feeling toward the French Language and population throughout the world.

Yellowknife Catholic Schools has been offering successful Early French Immersion programming since 1982!

Late French Immersion

The Late French Immersion Program is offered at Weledeh Catholic School and continues at École St. Patrick High School, where students join the regular French Immersion program.

It is an alternative program of choice that begins in grade 6 and continues through grade 12.  It is designed for students with little or no experience in French.  All regular core subjects – Science, Social Studies and math, as well as French Language Arts, are taught in French.  Most other courses, including options, are taught in English.

Late French Immersion students have opportunities to receive internationally recognized credentials through the DELF exam.

Bilingual Junior Kindergarten Program

Yellowknife Catholic Schools offers a bilingual junior kindergarten program at École St-Joseph School. This is a program that focuses on:

  • socialization,
  • creative play,
  • literacy, and
  • school-readiness skills.

This full-time program offers activities that are 50% in English and 50% in French. This provides children the opportunity to develop their skills through play and at the same time provide them with exposure to the French language. This will assist parents in making program choices for their children as they enter Kindergarten (English or French Immersion). Parents and the school district share the cost for this program.

Children must be 4 years of age on or before December 31st to register for this program.

French as a Second Language

Yellowknife Catholic Schools provides all students with the opportunity to learn French as a second language by offering a Core French program from Grades 1-12. This program enables students to reach a functional level of skills in understanding and communicating in French.

The FSL curriculum guide from Education, Culture and Employment NWT is followed and supported by AIM (Accelerated Integrated Method) Program, a unique educational approach using gestures, music, dance and theater.

The Core French program is offered in Weledeh Catholic School from Grade 1-7, École St-Joseph from Grade 1-7, and École St-Patrick from 8-12.

French Advanced Placement

The Advanced Placement (AP) Program allows students to pursue college-level studies while still in secondary school.

This program gives students the opportunity to show that they have mastered the advanced material by taking AP Exams. Students can receive credit, advanced placement, or both from thousands of colleges and universities that participate in the Advanced Placement Program.

AP courses in French Language Arts 10, 20 and 30 are offered at École St-Patrick High.


The DELF is an official diploma awarded by the French Ministry of Education in France to certify the competency of candidates outside of France in the French language.  To find out more about it, visit our DELF section of this website.  Click here to learn more.

French Immersion Program Locations

The French Immersion program is offered at the following sites:

École St-Joseph - Early French Immersion (Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten to Grade 7)

489 Range Lake Road, P.O. Box 728

Yellowknife, NT X1A 2N5

(867) 920-2112

École St-Patrick High - Grade 8 to 12

5010 - 44th Street, P.O. Box 2880

Yellowknife, NT X1A 2R2

(867) 873-4888

Weledeh Catholic School - Late French Immersion - Grades 6 & 7

5023 - 46 Street

Yellowknife, NT  X1A 2P2

(867) 873-5591

Visit the high school website for even more information on their French Immersion program.

Registration Procedures

Registration for bilingual Junior Kindergarten, Kindergarten and grade one through to grade seven is taken at École St-Joseph School and for grades eight through twelve at École St-Patrick High during the school-year months. Registration over the summer months or when school is closed is processed through our district office at 5124 - 49th Street. We can be reached by phone at 867-766-7400.

Did You Know?

  • French is spoken by 130 million people worldwide.
  • The French language is 27% lexically similar to English, 89% similar to Italian and 7% similar to Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and German.
  • After English, French is spoken in more countries and on more continents than any other language.
  • French is the second language of the Internet (after English).
  • French is a language of world diplomacy and a working language of international organizations, such as the European Economic Community, the United Nations, NATO, the International Monetary

For information on registering your child for French Immersion, please phone the school directly at the phone numbers highlighted in the previous section.

Socio-Cultural Activities in French Immersion

French Immersion students in Yellowknife Catholic Schools experience the French language in a variety of ways outside of the classroom.

Performing Artist Visits

French speaking entertainers are often invited to perform plays, songs and story-telling to students from kindergarten to grade twelve.

Winter Carnival

All students at elementary level are involved in a variety of activities including:

winter sports events (sliding, skating, etc.)

cabane à sucre (maple toffee on snow)

making of ceinture fléchée (arrowhead sash)

performing artists

school parade, and

traditional dancing

French Film Festival

The Association Franco-culturelle de Yellowknife organizes a Youth Film Festival. Students from kindergarden to grade 8 participate. Age appropriate films are shown at the school and some students get the opportunity to participate in a workshop.

Concours d'art oratoire (Public Speaking Contest)

Every spring, French Immersion students from grade six to grade twelve are invited to participate in the Concours d'Art Oratoire sponsored by Canadian Parents for French (CPF). Students prepare, practice and present short speeches on a topic of their choice. This event helps students develop pride in their second language and self-confidence speaking in front of an audience. Winners from Yellowknife Catholic Schools participate in the territorial concours in April.

La Dictée PG.L.

La Dictée P.G.L. is a great educational project designed for all elementary school pupils in French and French immersion classes, from kindergarten to grade 8, with three fundamental objectives: the promotion of the French language, increased awareness of international realities, and sensitization to environmental protection. While 5th and 6th grade pupils have the opportunity to take part in an international French dictation competition, younger students also have a chance to win prizes at the national level.

French Author Visits

Well-known French-speaking authors and illustrators are invited to visit French Immersion classrooms to share their stories and love of children's literature.

Camp de Neige for Grade 4/5 Students

In March, Grade 4 and 5 students enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, surval skills, and hockey.

Special Field Trips Including Travel Opportunities

French Immersion students have the opportunity to participate in many excursions and trips throughout their own school. Grade 7/8 French Immersion students may have the opportunity to participate in a national, subsidized student exchange program through the Society for Educational Visits and Exchanges in Canada (SEVEC) while high school French Immersion students may participate in a cultural trip to France.

These socio-cultural activities are partly supported by Canadian Parents for French. To join CPF or find out more about them, visit their website at :

Will Your Child Be Successful in Early French Immersion?

The answer to that question is not easy, especially when you consider the very young age at which your child will begin the Early Immersion program. It is often difficult to assess at that point what kind of learner your child will be.

Daniel Demers is a parent of two children with learning disabilities, a specialist in learning disabilities, the principal of a dual-track school and the author of Learning Disabilities and French Immersion. Mr. Demers understands very well the issues related to children with learning difficulties in the French Immersion program. Demers believes that some children with learning disabilities may be successful in French Immersion if they are taught the skills and strategies that will help them to achieve maximum language learning success. However, Demers does admit that some children may not be suited for French Immersion programs. Children with severe auditory discrimination problems and those who experience a very high level of frustration in a learning environment may experience serious difficulties learning a second language.

Based on his research and experience in this field, Demers has outlined a list of what he considers to be the main characteristics of both successful and unsuccessful learners in the French Immersion program.

The Successful Student in French Immersion:

  1. Is verbal, likes to talk
  2. Imitates easily
  3. Self corrects
  4. Experiments without fear of making mistakes
  5. Is exposed to many models of good modeling (at home, in the community and in school)
  6. Readily accepts challenges
  7. Shows strengths in first language
  8. Trusts
  9. Is usually attentive and focused
  10. Is willing
  11. Has good auditory discrimination
  12. Has good memory and good meta-cognitive awareness
  13. Has determined parental support and convinced parents

The Unsuccessful Student in French Immersion:

  1. Is often a reluctant speaker
  2. Imitates with difficulty
  3. Doesn't notice errors
  4. Often fears making mistakes
  5. Poor modeling (at home, in the community and in school)
  6. Has a defeatist attitude
  7. Often has poor first language skills
  8. Mistrusts
  9. Often is inattentive and unfocused
  10. Is often unwilling
  11. Has poor auditory discrimination
  12. Has poor memory and poor meta-cognitive awareness
  13. Often has unconvinced parents who are unprepared or unwilling to help

I don't speak French. How can I help?

This is the situation for the majority of students in the French Immersion program.  Teachers employ language learning strategies such as ‘study buddies’, scheduling extra help times, and assigning review or extension assignments that students can do independently at home;

  • monitor your child’s time on homework, encore him/her to develop good work habits
  • encourage him/her to be proactive and know when to ask for help before frustration sets in;
  • develop a collaborative and supportive relationship with your child’s teacher
  • provide opportunities for your child to use French outside the classroom: watch television and movies, listen to the radio, read books and magazines,  attend cultural events…all in French!
  • visit the Canadian Parents for French, National website for more ideas:
  • access the Alberta Education’s handbook for immersion parents, Yes, You Can Help!   (click here to access document)