Excerpt by Heather Van Mil, of Life, Love, and The Pursuit of Play

Growing up in rural Ontario, where everyone was bussed to the one local school, I was really excited for the different educational options that were available for my daughters in the metro area where we live. I’ve always been a bit of a language geek so I had my eye on the fantastic network of French Immersion public schools since before our eldest was even conceived. She is now in grade 2, and while her French is incredible, one of my biggest concerns (along with many parents with children in French Immersion) is how to maintain their English learning at the same time. Obviously, we speak English at home, and often read English books, but how do we encourage her English writing and reading skills?

At Ooka Island, we know that parents who choose to send their children to French Immersion programs are often concerned about the development of their English language skills. The good news is that language skills are transferable.

The skills used in French can be used in English and vice versa. Since many parents whose children attend French Immersion do not speak French at home, helping support their English language development not only hones their first language skills but can actually benefit the acquisition of the second language.

Regularly reading in English can help a student make meaning of a text in French as they’ll be able to draw on their background knowledge and experiences. As children learn to decode words in English by identifying sounds within words and understanding how these sounds can be used to read and spell other words, they can apply these same strategies to their French.

The Ooka Island reading program can help develop your child’s English language skills. Read how our game based reading program along with our weekly progress reports have helped Heather’s daughter by visiting her blog.


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