To support learners from various backgrounds, Nova Scotia offers programming in different languages.
English as a First Language
English as a First Language Program is offered in 7 regions around the province from grades primary to 12. The language of instruction is English.
French as a First Language
French as a First Language Program is offered in grades primary through 12 within the schools which are part of the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial school board.
- The language of instruction is French.
- Students in this board also study English as a first language starting in grade 4.
- French as a First Language Program is designed for the student whose father or mother has the right under subsection 23 (1) or (2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to French-language education in Nova Scotia.
- According to section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a child has the right to attend a French-language school in Nova Scotia if one of their parents is:
- Canadian citizen whose first language learned and still understood is French, or;
- Canadian citizen and educated, at the primary level, in French, in Canada, or;
- Canadian citizen whose child has received or is receiving primary school education or secondary school, in French, in Canada.
French as a Second Language
French as a Second Language programs are intended for students for whom French is a second language. These programs are offered in some of the schools in the educational regions which offer English as a first language programs. Second-language instruction includes the delivery of the following programs:
- Core French (grades 4 to 12), mandatory from grade 4 through 9, is a program devoted to learning French during regularly scheduled instructional periods.
- Intensive French (grade 6), an unofficial program, is offered as an alternative delivery model to Core French in grade 6.
- Integrated French (grades 7–12), an elective program, is offered to those students who wish to develop a greater degree of competence in French. Students in this program in grades 7 and 8 take a block integrating French language arts and social studies courses. In grades 9 to 12, students take a French language arts course and one other subject in French.
- French Immersion programs offer an alternative approach to learning French, within a structure that provides greater intensity for teaching and learning and focuses on literacy through the various disciplines taught in French. The goal of the program is to help students develop a high degree of proficiency in French. Subjects taught in French parallel those offered in the English program.
- Early French Immersion begins in grade primary and continues through grade 12.
- Late French Immersion begins in grade 7 and continues through grade 12.
Where offered, Mi’kmaq or Gaelic may replace the otherwise mandatory requirement for Core French. Mi’kmaw language learning will extend students’ understanding of Mi’kmaw culture and identity. The aim in teaching Gaelic is to encourage interest in and arouse curiosity about the Gaelic heritage and develop students’ aural, oral, reading, and writing skills in Gaelic.
English as an additional language
Nova Scotia is receiving growing numbers of newcomers each year. Newcomers are an important demographic, bringing rich and varied cultures and languages from around the world. English as an additional language (EAL) is the study of English by learners who already speak at least one other language or who come from a home in which another language is used.
Some EAL learners will be literate in their respective languages, while others may have had little or no formal education and may not be literate in any language. Therefore, each learner is an individual; some require intensive support for language learning, while others require far less. EAL programming and services has three major aims:
- To identify the needs of learners who come from culturally diverse backgrounds and whose first language is not English so that they can participate successfully in the education process.
- To provide learners who have little or no knowledge of the English language with equitable opportunities to achieve designated learning outcomes across the curriculum.
- To build on the EAL student’s first language and culture and encourage a positive self-image.
- EAL learners will initially need an assessment of their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in English, along with their literacy skills in their home language.
The first steps to meet the needs of learners of English as an additional language (EAL) are to identify:
- the level of fluency: listening, speaking, reading, and writing;
- the academic profile;
- the learner’s social, emotional and behavioural needs;
- cultural considerations.
Some students with EAL support might need additional support and counselling, because their personal situation is making learning difficult. The team that supports them relies on winning practices to develop an effective program for them.