June 27, 2010

French Immersion at Université Sainte-Anne

(Université Sainte-Anne as photographed from Église Sainte-Marie, the largest wooden church in North America)

I just completed an intensive five-week French immersion program at Université Sainte-Anne at their main campus in Pointe-de-l'Église, Nova Scotia. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The administrative staff, facilitators, and professors were among the most helpful and supportive I've ever met. The class, Français langue seconde - Intermédiaire 2, was without a doubt the best french class I've ever taken. Sometimes unclear and complicated grammar rules were explained with ease and I was able to understand concepts better in than I had even in French classes taught in English. The French-only rule was pretty strictly enforced which helped ensure a full-immersion experience. I met a lot of pretty great people from across Canada and the United States some of whom I hope to keep in touch with from years to come.

I was able to attend the 5 Week French Immersion program thanks to a bursary from The Council of Ministers of Education. The Council, along with the provinces award bursaries to Canadians in order to study French or English (for francophones) throughout the country. The only requirements are that you must

be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident (those studying in Canada on student visas are not eligible);
have completed at least grade 11 (secondary 5 in Quebec) or be at the postsecondary level by the time your Explore course begins; and
have been a full-time student for at least one term during the current school year.

More information is available at the Explore website. If you do not receive a bursary you can pay the regular fees to attend. There were quite a few Americans at Sainte-Anne who either paid or received bursaries from other sources.

I will be writing again soon with descriptions of the class, and out of class experience (with pictures), hardships, and maybe even a little French (with translation). For now, for your convenience below is the information direct from Université Sainte Anne. I recommend immersion in general and Sainte-Anne specifically to anyone who is looking to really learn a language. There is no better way to really habituate yourself to a language then being forced to use it 24/7 and Sainte-Anne offered a great environment for full-immersion and offered interesting socio-cultural activities every week.

Immersion School: 5-week spring and summer sessions

2010 Spring session: May 16 to June 19
2010 Summer session: July 4 to August 7


University students and adults who wish to perfect their French can benefit from our 5-week French immersion session in the spring. The schedule is very similar to the summer session. Students from across Canada, the United States and overseas, come to study and have fun during our summer session.
A well trained professional staff of teachers and counsellors ensure that your stay is a pleasant one. Activities range from theme nights, excursions and whale-watching expeditions, to canoeing and golf—all in French of course. Students attend 6 credit-hour courses in the morning, have a workshop in the afternoon, and activities are planned for the remainder of the day and the weekend.
There is no time for boredom, and fun is guaranteed to be had by all who participate. Students must be at least 15 years of age to enrol in this program. Many adults participate in this program and are housed in separate residences.

What will my day look like

Mornings are devoted to two formal classes.
A mandatory workshop is held in the afternoon (workshop choices include outdoors activities, choir, dance, video, art, etc.). After the workshops, sports activities are organised for the residences.
There is a different social activity organised each night, ranging from musical groups performing on campus for our students to casino night, from the “Café théâtre" to our own special version of popular game shows.
During the weekends, various trips to the beach, whale watching, canoeing and trekking are organised.

French only rule

At the official opening of the session, you are asked to sign a pledge agreeing to speak French at all times during the program. As soon as the pledge is signed, the use of French is mandatory at all times. If a student is caught speaking English they will receive a warning. The third warning results in expulsion from the program.


All students live in residence on campus and take their meals at the University cafeteria. A room will automatically be reserved for you in residence. If you wish to arrive a day earlier than specified, you must let us know so we can ensure that your room will be ready.
Note: Students are placed in residence according to their age.

Placement tests

The program curriculum provides instruction at 8 levels of linguistic competence.
The appropriate level is determined by an oral and written test given on the first Monday of each session.
The 8 levels of linguistic competence:
Beginner 1
Beginner 2
Intermediate 1
Intermediate 2
Intermediate 3
Advanced 1
Advanced 2
Very Advanced


Students may transfer credits for courses successfully completed to other universities or high schools.
These credit transfers, however, depend on the individual institution and the choice of programs.


Students who successfully complete the 5-week spring or summer sessions will receive a certificate indicating their completed level of competency in French in addition to their transcript of marks.


Click here


The bursary is available to Canadian citizens and landed immigrants who are in grade 11 or 12 or who are enrolled as full-time post-secondary students in the 2008-2009 academic year.
• The Explore Program offer bursaries to students wishing to improve their knowledge of French. It covers all tuition fees, room, meals and socio-cultural activities for the duration of the 5-week programs (travel expenses and the $150 enrolment fee are not covered by the bursary).
• Application forms are available at www.myexplore.ca
• Applications must be postmarked no later than February 28, 2009, and mailed directly to the provincial coordinator of the province in which you are applying for a bursary.

How do I apply to the program itself

1. Complete the registration form (please indicate which program you are applying for) and mail it directly to Université Sainte-Anne.
2. Send the $150 enrolment fee ($150 US funds for foreign students) with your registration. Reception of the deposit will automatically reserve a place for you in the program.
3.We accept VISA or Mastercard; cheques or money orders should be made payable to Université Sainte-Anne.
4. Full refund will be made if you withdraw four weeks before either session.
5. Students leaving while the session is in progress lose the $150 enrolment fee and will be charged an extra seven days from the date of departure.


  1. Hey its great to see someone post their experience about the trip! I'm heading there for the Summer session so I really hope I can read about your classes and activities before then!

  2. Yeah I'm sure I'll be getting through everything in the next few days. It's quite a lot to cover. There's eight levels of French that you are placed into based on an placement test at the start of the program. Things will be different for the summer session as it's geared to younger students but somethings should be similar.

    1. Is the summer all younger students? Do you think the summer session will be as fun for older students to go?

  3. I've been trying to search for the weather conditions there but it's been so hard! Do you know if it rains a lot there? I'm having a tough time debating whether to bring my rainboots since they take up so much space.

  4. Can I ask how your knowledge of French was before the program? I've heard about the different levels before, but am unsure how good at French you need to be in order to be called beginner or intermediate.

  5. I am heading there for the coming summer! Its great to hear you had such an amazing experience. I took french in high school but I am not very good at holding a conversation so this only french rule will be very helpful! By the way can I ask you about the transportation? did u choose via rail or the porter airlines?