Student swap: French vs. English schools

Two students - one from a French school and the other from a French-immersion English one - switch classes for the day.
Vanessa Caporicci (left) is a Grade 11 student at French school Félix-Leclerc in Pointe Claire. Robin Richard-Shaw is also a Grade 11 student but at English school St. Thomas in French immersion. They are swapping classes for the day. (CBC)

Today for Living English coverage, two students – one from a French school and one from a French-immersion English one – are swapping places for the day. Is there a difference between the two systems? Check back in throughout the day for updates.

The decision whether to send their children to French or English school can be a hard one to make for most parents.

According to a CBC-commissioned EKOS poll, 39 per cent of anglophones said their children would be better off at a French school.

Vanessa Caporicci is in Grade 11 at Félix Leclerc High School in Pointe Claire, a French school in the Marguerite Bourgeoys School Board.

When it came to choosing a high school to attend, Caporicci decided that a French school would be her best option. She lives in a primarily anglophone environment, speaking English with both family and friends.

Robin Richard-Shaw attends the Lester B. Pearson School Board’s St. Thomas High School next door to Félix Leclerc. She’s in Grade 11 and in French immersion.

The 16-year-old, who works a few hours a week at the Old Navy at Fairview Mall in the West Island, says she’s comfortable conversing in French but recognizes that it needs improvement.

"I speak French fairly well," she said.

Caporicci says going to a French school has been very beneficial to her French-language skills and has prepared her for professional life in Quebec. Still, she has applied to John Abbott College, an English-language CEGEP and doesn’t think she’ll go to a French university.

Richard-Shaw agrees with her school board’s chairman Suanne Stein-Day who gave the board’s French-language teaching an A-plus grade.

"My French teacher is fantastic," she said.

"We learn every part of the French language so yeah, it’s a very good program."

"I use it on a day-to-day basis. My writing and grammar skills are not so great."

Swapping spots

Richard-Shaw was a bit intimidated walking into Félix Leclerc for her first class of the day in Caporicci's spot. She said that despite the French-language instruction, she was able to understand everything.

Caporicci went to St. Thomas full of excitement. She has friends that attend the school and was looking forward to see what classes were like there. She attended a contemporary world issues class and said she thought that it was a bit easier than at her school.

"I'm having an easier time with comprehension," she said.

"But there are some English terms that I don't understand."

Richard-Shaw was surprised to hear Caporicci thought the contemporary issues class was easier at St. Thomas. She found the class at Félix Leclerc easier.

Overall, the two say they are finding out just how similar their schools are.