Why French Immersion?

In the early grades (K-5), teachers have the new ADST curriculum guidelines that describe ways to explore the process of design. Developing possible solutions, refining ideas, testing solutions, and repeating the process as necessary carries through to the upper grades with increasing complexity. For grade six and seven students, computational thinking is described specifically as one of twelve possible learning modules, of which at least three need to be evaluated (graded). The content described in the computational thinking and robotics modules are easily integrated into the more general ADST framework for the design process. In younger grades (K-5), teachers often integrate ADST curriculum into various subjects across the curriculum. For example, second-grade students may design a simple game to illustrate their understanding of probability in mathematics. 

Early French Immersion, which often begins in first grade,  involves a majority of learning experiences and content in French. It is then understandable that some teachers may be concerned that complex tasks such as coding may lead to students speaking English at times. Research involving task-based second language learning indicates that most of the English spoken during these tasks contributes directly to students managing the learning process. As a result, there is a general understanding that there is a place for some English in French immersion tasks if English is being used judiciously to support second language learning in terms of cognitive and social functions. As always, support students with some modeled language and appropriate corrective feedback will also be beneficial.

Most importantly, learning to code and understand computational thinking involves learning several skill sets that can support rich language usage (ex. negotiating meaning and explaining one’s point of view). It is also possible that these STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities may engage French immersion students in tasks that allow them to see themselves as French speakers in additional learning domains.