Choosing a French as a Second Language (FSL) program in Canada is an important step. Whether you are coming to Canada to learn French, or whether you need French for the rest of your studies in Canada, the right program makes all the difference. While the widest variety of FSL programs in Canada are found in Quebec, FSL programs are offered nation-wide. Here are some tips to keep in mind while looking for your program.
Some FSL programs focus on grammar and literature, while others focus on conversation and Francophone culture. Some are designed for those with existing French-language skills, and others for those who have never spoken French before. Whatever your needs, you should make sure that the FSL program you choose is suited to your current level of skill and gives you room to progress.
You want the FSL program you choose to meet the standards set by a language training accreditation agency. The program should also be a member of a professional society or association, to ensure that there is ongoing monitoring of quality. See our section on Accreditation of FSL Programs in Canada for more details.
Are the instructors in your FSL program native French speakers? Are they full-time professional instructors? What training have they had and have they lived and worked in other countries? Other than your own hard work, your teacher is the biggest influence on how much you learn, how well, and how quickly.
Language labs, video and audio equipment and computers with Internet access and interactive learning programs are all big advantages to an FSL program. Other aspects to look for include conversation clubs, cultural activities or other opportunities to use your French outside the classroom.
The different housing options for international students in Canada (such as residences and dormitories, homestay and off-campus apartments) will depend on where in Canada the FSL program is located, and what kind of school it is offered by (an independent language school or part of a university or college). When choosing your housing option, keep in mind that if you are studying in Quebec or another Francophone community, homestay will offer you more opportunities to practice your French on a daily basis and in a greater variety of circumstances.
FSL programs are available across Canada, which gives you a wide range of locations to choose from. You might want to study in a large city, or in a smaller town where you get to know more people. You might want to choose a completely Francophone community or you might feel more comfortable studying French while living in an English context. No matter where you go, be sure to consider climate and likely weather, as well as how much travel you wish to do and the cost of living.
Consider the size of the campus, the number of international students at the institution, class size and teacher to student ratio.
Consider whether the program leads to a credential (diploma, certificate), a career track, academic transfer, single or overall skill improvement, etc.
Choosing an FSL program in Canada gives international students a whole new set of opportunities for life, work and travel around the world.