French in Toronto

Whether you’re francophone, francophile, have kids in French Immersion or parle un peu, chances are you’ve come across French in city. Ontario makes up the biggest French language community in Canada (outside of Quebec) with more than 600,000 francophones. Almost 10 per cent of them live in Toronto.

So where to find them?

Next week French-speaking Torontonians (and friends) celebrate the annual Semaine de la Francophonie (March 20 to 28, 2015) when the approximate 125,000 GTA-ers who speak French as a first language unite to fête this common bond.

But you don’t have to be fluently French to participate in all the francophone community has to offer. Whatever your accent, here are some ways to connect, learn and vivre en français:

Faire la fête: No better way to connect with or introduce your kids to fellow French-speakers than through the annual Francophonie Week in Toronto. The party kicks off with a free soirée on Friday, March 20, 2015 in the CBC/Radio-Canada Atrium. This summer the Franco-Fête takes over Yonge-Dundas Square during the Pan Am Games (July 10 to 26) and this year Franco-Ontarians mark the 400th year of French in Ontario.

Learn French: If French is not spoken at home, learning that second language can be especially challenging. Need some motivation – this research shows that our brains (young and old) are actually wired to do so. Toronto has many courses for want-to-be French speakers. The two main schools – Alliance Française and Ecole Napoléon – have French as a foreign language for preschool, school-aged and adults.

Learn it early: For school-aged children in the English-speaking public school system, French Immersion is one way to get them on the road to bilingualism. Parents with JK-ers in TOw are faced with the decision to embark on early immersion, wait until later or skip it all together. (It’s a heated topic – you may have read this for and against.) There are some private options such as The Giles School (French Immersion), Toronto French School (bilingual) and Toronto French Montessori (bilingual). Lots of children’s centres, Toronto Public Library branches as well as the City of Toronto offer some French programs.

Get connected: The Centre francophone de Toronto serves as the main entry point for francophones in Toronto with resources to French-language services and events. They also host gatherings for parents with kids and babies.

Theatre: The arts are one of the best ways to discover a culture and language. Check the Young Peoples’ Theatre for French presentations of their productions. The Theatre Francais de Toronto provides half of its performances with English subtitles.

Films: The Alliance Française has Cinema for the Little Ones and the National Film Board has some French children’s classics online. The youth version of the annual CineFranco takes place in February.

Storytime: The Toronto Public Libraries offer some drop in French gatherings.

Online: Kids can get connected en francais with TFO (Télévision française de l’Ontario) on TV and with its games and apps. French CBC has a Zone jeunesse and Zone petits.

Where do you find French for your family? Leave a comment and let us know!

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