Calgary Board of Education (CBE) students bring over 130
languages into our learning environments every
day. Honoring the richness and sharing the cultural and
linguistic realities of our global society has become a key
component in helping students learn the skills and
competencies required for the 21st century. Having a
second language is one of these competencies.
Alberta Education’s Impact of Second Language Education
study highlights the numerous benefits second language
learning provides for fostering academic and personal
development in every student. At the CBE, our commitment
is that each student, starting in grade 4, will learn a second
language. For more information on the languages we offer,
check out: Here
are some of the ways that second language learning has
impacted CBE learners.
Since its introduction in the mid 1970’s, French Immersion
has been a popular alternative program in the CBE. It has
grown from a small group of students, to a vibrant
population today of 7,000 plus students.
Currently, 24 schools in the CBE offer the immersion
experience: 12 elementary schools, 1 middle school, 7
junior high schools and 4 high schools.
The CBE offers two entry points into the program. Early Immersion also known as Continuing
Immersion begins in Kindergarten or Grade 1 and Late Immersion begins in Grade 7. Students in both
of these programs are immersed in the French language and culture. Immersion uses an approach to
teaching second languages that is referred to as integrated, content-based, communicative, or functional
instruction. The most distinctive feature of immersion programs is the use of French to teach regular
academic subjects, such as mathematics and science. Immersion students demonstrate the same levels
of achievement in these subjects as students do in their first language. At the same time, they are
acquiring advanced levels of functional proficiency in French.
Early Immersion students receive 100% of their instruction in
French until Grade 3, at which point English Language Arts is
introduced. In Grade 7 options are taught in English and
approximately 65% of instruction is in the French language.
Students entering the late immersion program in Grade 7 learn the
language at a surprisingly rapid rate. Already possessing a solid
foundation in all areas of learning, transference of reading and
writing skills are usually achieved with ease. Students in the Late
Immersion program receive instruction in French in the core
subject areas: French Language Arts, Science, Math and Social Studies. Options and English Language
Arts are offered in English. In the CBE, the late immersion students and the continuing immersion
students are integrated in Grade 9. This provides many opportunities for the two populations to interact
and share experiences and tasks together that benefit both groups.
Throughout their immersion experience, students are invited into the French culture through numerous
activities such as song and dance, drama and art. Technologies such as e-pals play a crucial role in
learning by eliminating the physical distance between cultures. Visits from various artists, be they
musicians, authors, dancers, or singers add interest and enjoyment for the immersion learner. The
organization of various cultural activities such as carnaval, semaine de la francophonie, French for the
Future, and trips to Québec augments the linguistic and cultural components of the program and
contributes to the overall learning experience of each student.
In High School, students continue to build on their second language skills,
taking French Language Arts, and Math and Social Studies in French. All
other subjects are in English. They participate in a variety of activities that
help consolidate their learning such as debates, concours oratoire (speech
competitions), and drama competitions. By experiencing success in these
relevant learning experiences, students see the potential of using French
throughout their adult lives.
Grade 12 French Immersion graduates are awarded a French Immersion
certificate at a celebration ceremony. This recognizes the hard work and
effort that they have devoted to learning French over several years.
These graduates leave the CBE well equipped to be 2lst Century learners
and better prepared to find their place in the global community.
For more information on French Immersion program opportunities at the
CBE, go to:
Historically, the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has offered second
language learning opportunities since its inception. As of 2006/07, all
students beginning in Grade 4 will learn a second language other than
English. The vision of the second language initiative is that students
will be able to communicate and interact in more than one
language. This is achieved through daily instruction in a second
language. Second language programs are different from Bilingual and
Immersion Programs.
The Calgary Board of Education Offers:
Chinese/Mandarin Language & Culture
Cree/Blackfoot Language and Culture
French as a Second Language (FSL)
German Language and Culture
Japanese Language and Culture
Spanish Language and Culture
Korean Language and Culture
To find the location of the above language schools, click on the
following link;
FSL/ Language and Culture Programs in CBE
In all second language learning, students are exposed to the language
and its culture. This cultural awareness prepares students for
participation in the global environment. Our 21st century learners are
global citizens who connect with the world’s cultures through travel and
online communications.
In an effort to expand students’ experiences in the second language,
schools offer trips to the province of Quebec and other countries
where the second language is spoken.
There are also a variety of field trips in and around Calgary. For
example, students learn about the maple sugar tradition and
experience the tire d’érable (sugar pull). Many performers visit our
schools. Students are taught how to play the wooden spoons and
other instruments as well as how to sing in the second
language. Some schools have a carnival and others have a French
café. There are video-conferences with Spanish speaking students,
Flamenco and Cuban dancing, and the Chinese New Year
celebration, to name a few cultural opportunities. Many students have
e-pals from around the world. Several groups of students experience
the cuisine and culture of a specific language tradition at a local
Learning a second language is much more than learning to speak the language. It’s also about learning
and living a different culture. Appropriately, UNESCO has declared 2008 to be the International Year of
Languages with the motto Languages Matter.
In the past 10 years, CBE has added three exciting alternative
language learning program choices for CBE families! Bilingual
programs begin in Kindergarten or grade 1 and provide up to 50%
of instruction in the target language and 50% in English every day.
Our International Bilingual Programs offer rich opportunities to
experience the culture of the target language as part of daily
learning, thereby promoting not only personal growth but global
In 2007/08, the Chinese (Mandarin) program, was housed at
Langevin School, offering learning opportunities in Chinese from
K– 9, including significant cultural events like Chinese New Year
celebrations. In September 2008, grades K-6 relocated to King
George School to provide continued expansion of the program.
Students also have the opportunity to learn German at Bowcroft
School. Now in its seventh year, we look forward to the start of
junior high German Bilingual at Thomas B. Riley in September
2009. Last year Bowcroft School successfully piloted the
Sprachdiplom test, which provided the first international
language credentialing opportunity for CBE students.
The Spanish Bilingual program opened a south middle school at
Robert Warren in September 2008, which complements the north
middle school opened at Senator Patrick Burns in 2006. These
expansions follow booming growth at all four Spanish Bilingual elementary schools: Collingwood, Canyon
Meadows, Westgate and Dalhousie. Students and staff at these schools have the opportunity of being
partnered with the Spanish Ministry of Education and are therefore recognized as International Spanish
Academies. CBE will have the honor of expanding to the first International Spanish Academy high school
in Canada at William Aberhart in 2009.
International career opportunities, improved academic potential,
intercultural understanding, and enhanced citizenship awareness
are just a few of the benefits experienced by bilingual program
students. These students live a new life in Chinese, German or
Spanish, on a daily basis and understand very well why
Languages Matter.
Two Collingwood School teachers and one of our
Visiting Teachers from Spain, Danielle Boltres, Patricio
Inostroza and Señorita Rosa Costa Celda , were
among the finalists for the Cristóbal de Villalón prize.
Their entry “Los Niños de Primaria Navegan Con
Cristóbal Colón” (Primary School Students Sail with
Christopher Columbus) was acted and directed by
Grade Two and Four students from Collingwood
School. This film can currently be viewed on our CBE
Global Connect website.
This prestigious award is presented in Valladolid, Spain annually. The committee reviewed 38
submissions from around the world and selected only 5. The other finalists were from France, México,
Florida and Brasil. This is the third annual award from this committee: These same teachers won the
first first-place award for their film “Don Quixote” two years ago.
This same team of exceptional teachers recently received the Association for Supervision and
Curriculum Design “Celebrating Innovative Practice Award” for the same film. The attached photo was
taken of Sr. Inostroza and Sra. Boltres as they received the ASCD award.
Every year CBE students from our French Immersion programs and
French Second Language classes visit the province of Quebec to
experience the language and culture of our sister city. It is an
opportunity to apply some of their learning of the French language
and also an opportunity to experience the French Canadian culture
first hand.
A Grade 9 student shares “This trip was something I’ve been looking
forward to since Grade 7, and it was an amazing experience to see
somewhere so unlike Calgary… I was able to learn a lot about the
French culture and history, and it was neat to see all the different
Students used words like “amazing,” “worthwhile,” “interesting,”
“memorable,” and of course, “fun” and “educational” in their
responses to a questionnaire on their trip to Quebec. A teacher
echoed the students in saying that after studying French for 13
years this experience “revalidated” her studies. “It was terrific having
the chance to practice what I’ve studied so hard for!”
A week passes by quickly when there is so much to see, taste, say and do. Of the many pre-planned
activities, the following are some of the cultural highlights the students mentioned: architecture, food, music,
history, art and artisanship.
One student spoke about the value he now places on a second language,
saying: “I am trying harder to learn French. When I was there I was trying
very hard to communicate with people so I’m going to improve my French
and go back.” Several students expressed a similar desire. What a wonderful
opportunity to motivate students to even greater achievement! Each student
was asked to think about how the value of learning a second language had
been impacted by their experience. This might be summed up by this
student’s comment. “It has definitely changed, in a good sort of way.”
When asked to respond personally to why they think “Languages
Matter,” students categorically agreed that communication with others
in their own spoken languages is so important. They talked about a
“limit for where you can go and who you can talk to if you only know
one language.” It was repeatedly voiced that languages matter for
career choices, traveling, breaking down barriers, and that “languages
are the voice of different cultures.”
CBE students are united in stressing how important it is to experience a visit to Quebec. They are also
united in their vision for a school, a community, and a world that honours all its diverse cultures and
languages. They are truly 21st Century learners living a global reality.
“[Our trip to Quebec] showed us the language was real and [that] we have learned enough over three
years to communicate in French.” Student comment.
On May 15, Grade 1 and 2 students of Bowcroft School’s
German Bilingual Program participated in the University of
Calgary’s second annual German Day. Since the Department
of Germanic, Slavic and East Asian Studies hosts this event
primarily for high school students to provide them the
opportunity to showcase their language skills through skits,
videos and poetry competitions, we were especially pleased to
have been invited.
The audience was impressed and delighted with the
performance and language abilities of our children. It included
a video, “Tom und der Milchreis mit Zucker und Zimt” and two songs sung on site, “Wir spielen so gerne
Fußball“ and “Bei uns zu Hause in der Küche“.
Subsequently, we were treated to lunch on the lawn outside
Craigie Hall, which consisted, of course, of that most typical of all
German meals, Bratwurst on a bun. Yummm!
Our young students were proud to have had this opportunity and
were wonderful ambassadors for our school, our program and the
Children in Central America and the Caribbean are, in some cases,
touching their first storybooks thanks to Spanish and French
second language students at Centennial High School. “I don’t think
there is any better way to apply learning a second language than
using it to help people in need. These books are just a small way to
bring happiness to children and support the larger picture in
developing nations” said Sara, one of the students involved in the
Students in Ms. Taks’ language class at Centennial High School
have been writing and illustrating storybooks for school children in
Nicaragua, Mexico and Haiti since early 2007. They partner with community organizations that deliver the
books directly to the schools. Recently, students Sarah, Mary, Jamie and Maddison had the opportunity to
personally deliver the books to children in Mexico. Mary, another student, commented, “You don’t truly know
how much a children’s book would bless these kids until you have witnessed their little faces light up at
something that we take for granted every day.”
After personally witnessing and commenting on the lack
of resources at a school in Nicaragua, Ms. Taks’ niece
had the inspirational idea of getting her aunt to invite her
language class students to take action. “The project
became very meaningful for them and they put their …
whole-hearted effort into creating the books,” observed Ms.
Taks. The books are written, illustrated and bound in the
classroom. The language students work with a children’s
author and fellow art students, as well as partner with
community agencies to share their stories with children who
may have never owned a book before.
“I would recommend this project to others!” exclaimed Jamie,
another student in the project. “Even though my contribution
of one book was small and seems pretty insignificant, it can
actually make a difference to a child in another country. And
when there is a whole class, a whole bunch of books can
become one giant happy present for some little kids!”

Slide 1