There are countless benefits to a bilingual foundation—from delaying Alzheimer’s to becoming eligible for higher paying jobs and competitive university programs. Want to become bilingual or want to provide your child with the skills necessary to become a top candidate? Consider a bilingual French and English education. The following programs are our local favourites. Whether you’re an adult trying to improve your French language skills, or you want to enroll your child in a bilingual program starting as young as JK or as late as junior high, there’s a program for you.
TFS – Canada’s International School
One of the first and most well known bilingual schools in Canada, TFS Canada’s International School is a bilingual, coeducational and non-denominational independent school. Education is available from pre-k to grade 12. Even though early education is offered, your child can enroll with no prior French experience as late as grade seven. This school promotes an international approach to education.
“We offer a unique, blended curriculum, formed from the best of the Ontario and France curricula, and the three programs of the International Baccalaureate (IB) – the Primary and Middle Years, and Diploma programs”,
says Susan Markle, TFS’s Executive Director of Admissions.
TFS Campus – Senior School. Photo: TFS.
At TFS French is taught first and English is introduced by grade two. Don’t worry—English is far from neglected. Once introduced, English is explored and appreciated to the fullest as a language. This approach seems to pay off as students from TFS consistently find themselves in the 98th-99th percentile for English on the Canadian Test of Basic Skills.
“TFS teaches French as a first, rather than a second or foreign, language – providing students with true fluency,”
says Markle. As a parent you may be concerned that you must be fluent as well to support your budding scholar, but that is not the case.
“Parents do not need to speak French, and there are many supports for students as their studies become more challenging.”
Each Grade 1 student has a leadership role at La p’tite école, on TFS’ Toronto campus.
Here are two students from the televised announcements committee,
preparing a broadcast for La p’tite école with TFS’ Head of School, Dr. González.
The students of TFS are immersed in culture through field trips and overnight trips. By grade six, students have elective courses with multiple classrooms (instead of a single teacher) and have the option to study a third language. By high school, students have the option to take exams that students in France take at this stage in their education. TFS students consistently perform well on these exams and are awarded the Diplôme National du Brevet des Collèges. Students at TFS complete their education in the IB Diploma Program. This program goes beyond ordinary secondary education programs and truly prepares students for university. The program is a liberal arts program that is recognized internationally. Completion of this program often affords students advanced university placement. Markle says:
“Admissions officers for the most sought-after programs in universities are looking for students whose aptitudes and interests go beyond the norm. Beyond university, our alumni live and thrive in all parts of the world, use their French effortlessly to open doors, acquire new languages and immerse themselves in other cultures.”
Tuition can be an obstacle for some students so TFS offers an entrance scholarship program at the grade seven level. In order to be eligible for the program students must demonstrate high academic standing and financial need.
La Citadelle International Academy of Arts and Science
La Citadelle started very humbly in 2001 with only five students. It has since grown immensely to over 200 students which is no wonder because it is an excellent bilingual school. This unique private elementary and secondary bilingual school offers a holistic and international education. Students receive four years of French education (Kindergarten Division), followed by eight years of bilingual instruction (Elementary Division).
If you want your child to explore the arts as well as French, this may be the perfect school for you. Students make art, act in plays, play in orchestra ensembles, compose music and poetry, produce films, organize school events and dances and raise funds for charity. If that’s not impressive enough, multiculturalism is also on the agenda. Students learn about multiculturalism through many activities and intriguing exchange programs with schools from other countries.
If you are considering sending your child to kindergarten at La Citadelle, you will definitely be impressed by the curriculum. Kindergarten students study French Language and Culture, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, Art, Computer Studies and Physical Education. By elementary school, 50 per cent of courses are taught in French. Elementary students study French as a first language, English as a first language, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Computer Studies, Music, Computer Music, Instrumental Music (band), Visual Arts, Drama, Physical Education, Health and Safety, Character Education, Method of Study and a third language (their choice of Mandarin or Spanish). For a creative education with a bilingual foundation, choose La Citadelle.
This bilingual school offers education from kindergarten through grade six. Raising a little bilingual activist? Hawthorne II Bilingual Alternative School may be the right fit. Perhaps its most unique attribute is its emphasis on social justice and the environment. Hawthorne II is also the only alternative bilingual elementary school and the largest alternative elementary school in the TDSB. Students receive daily French instruction in gradually longer increments—from 20 minutes in JK to 150 minutes by grade six.
If you’re a music lover you’ll be pleased to note that music is taught to all students at Hawthorne II. It all starts with singing in JK, which leads to the primary school choir and the introduction of some new instruments like the xylophone, with the students eventually learning to play traditional band instruments in the junior grades.
As a TBSB school there is no tuition at Hawthorne II, but enrolling in the program is tricky. Optional Attendance is required for all interested students. If you want your youngster to learn French and about social justice and music in a public school setting, this school is for you.
Lycée Français Toronto
Lycée Français Toronto combines school curriculums from France with Canadian culture and values. This Toronto school offers PK to grade 12. If you are searching for a true French teaching experience, this is the school for you. Most of the teachers at LFT formerly taught in France and internationally. LFT is part of the AEFE Network (Agency For French Teaching Abroad). As such the school is one of 494 schools in 135 countries outside of France with this accreditation.
Lycée Français Toronto building. Photo: LFT
Accreditation by the French Ministry of Education certifies that the education offered by the school meets the demands, curricula, teaching objectives and organizational rules of the French education system. Students from accredited schools like LFT can pursue education in another French school without having to take an entry examination. This means that LFT students can visit, live and study abroad. To remain accredited, schools must periodically demonstrate that they meet accreditation criteria (acceptance of both French and foreign nationals, preparation for French examinations, employment of qualified French staff), making LFT a reliable and high quality option for your child’s education.
French excellence aside, the arts, athletics and culture are also celebrated at LFT. Students can expect to participate in frequent school trips, cultural weeks, charity work and community service. Like several of the schools on this list, class sizes are small so greater attention can be focused on the students. This has resulted in a great track record for the students at LFT. The school boasts a 100% success rate on the BAC (French Baccalaureat), with 75 per cent of those students passing with Distinction). One hundred per cent of LFT graduates attend university, with 75 per cent of all graduates enrolling in English-language universities, and 75 per cent of all graduates attending university in Canada including McGill, UofT, Queens and UBC. Some students go on to attend top American, British and French universities as well. If you are looking for bilingual education that will open doors for your child, look no further.
Bilingual education is almost guaranteed to offer great ROI. Being fluent in French opens many doors and is a great way to keep your brain sharp and focused. These schools represent some of the best bilingual programs in Toronto. We hope you consider them for you or your little scholar.
View from the CCET location. Photo CCET
Canada College of Education
Learning a language later in life is much more difficult than picking it up as a child. If you’re trying to learn French as an adult, you’ll need a great school. One of the best French language programs for adults in Toronto is available at the Canada College of Education. CCE is a certified institution registered under Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) which means that as a student you might even be eligible to apply for tax relief. Classes are very affordable and offered in an intensive format to immerse students in the French language and offer valuable new skills in a brief time period. Lessons are sold in bulk hour bundles, with price breaks for the larger hour bundles.
French lessons are offered for adults, business people and children. In addition to French, Canada College of Education also offers classes in other foreign languages. Both private and group lessons are available. CCE is fully accredited by Languages Canada which regulates the quality of teaching and educational services. CCEducation is a designated learning institute recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) and authorized by Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC), which facilitates the process of obtaining a study permit. As such, international students are eligible for their programs but will be obligated to pay a $125 admission fee (if not currently living in Canada). If you want to study at CCE but have a job, please note that part time morning, afternoon and evening classes are available. If you’re looking for a flexible bilingual education suitable for any age, this is it.