French as a Second Language

FSL in Ontario

A Framework for French as a Second Language (FSL) in Ontario Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12 was released in February 2013 as an overarching strategic 10-year document that serves as a call to action and a guide to strengthen FSL programming through the cohesive efforts of educators, students, parents/guardians, and communities.

The framework articulates

The vision for FSL in Ontario

Students in English-language school boards have the confidence and ability to use French effectively in their daily lives.

The goals for FSL in Ontario

  • Increase student confidence, proficiency, and achievement in FSL.
  • Increase the percentage of students studying FSL until graduation.
  • Increase student, educator, parent/guardians, and community engagement in FSL.

The FSL curriculum strives, ultimately, to foster an interest in language learning that continues not only during a student’s time in school but later in life. The FSL curriculum is therefore founded on seven fundamental concepts, or “enduring ideas”, which focus, from Grade 1 to 12, on the development of skills that are also necessary as a basis for lifelong language learning. These enduring ideas are:

  • Authentic oral communication: reception, production, and interaction.
  • Listening, speaking, reading, and writing: interconnected but distinct.
  • Development of language learning strategies.
  • Interdependence of language and culture.
    Emphasis on critical and creative thinking skills.
  • Goal setting and reflection
  • Making real-world connections.

Elementary and secondary curriculum

To learn more, see the French as a Second Language Ontario Curriculum document and the French as a Second Language Grade 9 to 12 Curriculum document.


The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) is a research-based framework conceived in the early 1990s under the direction of the Council of Europe, in response to the challenge of creating a common description of second-language proficiency that could be used internationally. The CEFR is neither a program nor a curriculum; it is a tool that describes the competences needed by second-language learners in order to be able to communicate effectively.

In recent years, French as a Second Language (FSL) teachers across the province have been involved in exploring the impact of the CEFR on instruction and in developing action-oriented tasks.

Visit Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR) for more information.

A Framework for French as a Second Language in Ontario Schools, K–12 underlines the value of using the CEFR. It states:

“In Ontario, this reference tool is recognized as a valuable asset for informing instruction and assessment practices in FSL education” (p. 4). As educators gain an understanding of the CEFR, they pause and reflect on teaching strategies that result in improved proficiency for students.”

The CEFR describes competences of the second-language learner in five areas: spoken production, spoken interaction, listening, reading, and writing. In addition, the six levels of proficiency are described in terms of “can-do” statements. Here are simplified descriptions of the six levels.

The learner can:

  • Comprehend and use familiar simple words and expressions.
  • Understand and communicate in frequently used isolated sentences in their immediate environment (example, shopping, life at school ,and family).
  • Understand the main points of every day communication and deal with most situations that are familiar or of personal interest.
  • Understand concrete and abstract concepts and interact with a degree of ease and spontaneity in the target language.


It is important to note that there is no correlation between the levels of proficiency of the CEFR and grade level. There is also no correlation between the levels of the CEFR and the levels and categories of the provincial achievement chart. Learners will use CEFR descriptors to help them identify their current proficiency level and to set goals to move forward. Students need to develop their “self-assessment skills to enable them to assess their own learning, set specific goals, and plan next steps for their learning”.

Students can choose to take the DELF (Diplôme d’études en langue française) at the CEFR level appropriate to their learning. The DELF is a lifelong certification, and certain levels afford special opportunities, like being able to attend French-speaking universities.


The Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française (DELF) is an internationally recognized test of French proficiency. It is based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), which defines language proficiency along six global levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. At each level, proficiency is measured across four competencies: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The French Ministry of National Education awards successful candidates a diploma that is valid for life.

Students enrolled in a Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) Grade 12 French as a Second Language (FSL) course, and who have not previously written the DELF.

TLDSB offers students a choice of three test levels: A2, B1, or B2. The choice should be made with help from your FSL teacher. The DELF has two components, a written exam and an oral interview, which take place at the student’s current school.

TLDSB students will be asked to get a consent form signed in January. The fees are covered by a joint effort from the Ministry and TLDSB.

TLDSB, with the support of DELF Ontario, endeavours to provide two different DELF sessions to accommodate all of our secondary schools. The first session is during early April, and the second session takes place in early May.

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