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International and Aboriginal Language Programs and Courses

  • Code: GGAG.AR
    Topic: International and Aboriginal Language Programs and Courses
    Issue Date: 29/01/2020
    Effective Date: 29/01/2020
    Review Year: 2024


    The Edmonton Public School Division offers two types of International and Aboriginal language education.

    Bilingual Programs
    Edmonton Public Schools provides bilingual programming for students in the following languages: Spanish, Ukrainian, German, Arabic, Hebrew, Mandarin, and ASL (American Sign Language).

    The term bilingual programming is used to describe a partial immersion program where English and a second language are both languages of instruction. In bilingual programming, students are taught both English language arts and the language arts of the target language.

    Second Language and Culture Courses
    Second language and culture courses in Edmonton Public Schools currently exist for the following languages: Arabic, Mandarin, Ukrainian, Spanish, Cree, German, Japanese, Latin, American Sign Language, and Punjabi.
    International language and culture and bilingual students must not be combined in the same classroom for instruction in the target language.


    Bilingual Programs
    The entry points for students beginning a bilingual program are Kindergarten or Grade 1. Exceptional circumstances may be considered at the discretion of the receiving principal.

    Second Language and Culture Courses
    The primary entry points for students beginning the study of second language and cultural courses will be Grade 4, Grade 7 or Grade 10. Some elementary schools may begin in Kindergarten or in Grade 1. Some senior high schools may offer courses for students beginning second language and cultural courses if the numbers warrant and in accordance with Division regulations. Grade 7 entry points for specific languages will be at school sites, and implemented in consultation with the Institute for Innovation in Second Language Education (IISLE).

    The intention of the Division language policy is to provide opportunity for all students to learn a second language. However, the Division also recognizes that there may be instances when the educational best interests of a student could warrant an exemption from the second language requirement.
    1. The principal in consultation with parents/guardians may exempt a student from second language programming, if the student:
      1. has moderate or severe special needs;
      2. is an English Language learner; or
      3. requires an intervention plan or additional supports and services.

    Bilingual Programs
    To successfully complete the learner outcomes of a bilingual program, students should have access to the following percentage of instructional time in the target language:

    Grade Level

    Percentage of Time


    Up to 100%

    Grade One to Grade Six

    35% - 50%

    Grade Seven to Grade Nine

    30% - 50%

    Grade 10 to Grade 12

    at least 20%

    It is strongly recommended that, wherever possible, the portion of the day allocated to instruction in the target language be uninterrupted and undivided by English instructional time. Blocking of instructional time to maintain a strong linguistic environment is recommended.

    Second Language and Culture Programs
    To enable students enrolled in a language and culture course to successfully complete the learner outcomes required in the curriculum, students from Grade 4 through 9 will receive 95 hours of instruction in the language per year, which will be timetabled to provide between 140-160 minutes per week of instruction.

    It is recommended that where language and culture courses in Grades 1 to 3 are taught, instruction be provided for 95 hours per year.

    In elementary and junior high schools international language and culture courses should be timetabled over a 10 month period and not be semestered.

    It is recommended that in the high school language and culture courses be scheduled for delivery over 10 months.

    The Division's international language programs shall implement the programs of study that are prescribed by Alberta Education or approved by the Division under the authority of the School Act. Only sites designated as bilingual sites may offer language arts courses in the target language.

    The target language will be the language of instruction in the bilingual and second language classroom.

    The schools offering bilingual programs and second language courses will ensure that students have access to the basic learning resources authorized by Alberta Education and/or authorized by the Division or principal.

    The Division shall provide opportunity for students who wish to receive internationally recognized diplomas in specific languages.
      • German: Deutsches Sprachdiplom
      • Ukrainian: University of Lviv Ukrainian Language Exam
      • Spanish: Diplomas de Espanol como Lengua Extranjera (DELE)
      • Mandarin: Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) Chinese Proficiency Test
      • Japanese: Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)
    The Division shall administer the course challenge provision in accordance to the procedures outlined in the Guide to Education: ECS to Grade 12.

    Students who wish to challenge a course will need to demonstrate evidence of readiness for the challenge, e.g., samples of student work recommended by a teacher. The process will be in accordance with the Division's International Language Challenge procedure. Challenge students shall not be eligible to receive the Division certificate.

    Special needs students may be exempted from the language requirement in accordance with regulations established by the Minister.

    Transportation for students in bilingual programs shall be provided in accordance with board policy. See Board Policy DEA.BP - Student Transportation and Administrative Regulation DEA.AR - Transportation Services.

    All teachers new to an Aboriginal, international language and culture or bilingual program assignment shall take the Division's Language Proficiency Assessment. All teachers of Aboriginal or international languages with a second language teaching assignment, who have not taken the Language Proficiency Assessment, are encouraged to do so. 


GA.BP Student Programs of Study
HB.AR Student Placement
Alberta Education - Guide to Education
Institute for Innovation in Second Language Education (IISLE)
Education Act
GGAG.AR Guidelines and Implementation Procedures