French at TFS: A common language, a universal perspective
While academic ambition has been the hallmark of TFS’s reputation, the offering of the French and English languages is what makes our institution one-of-a-kind. Founded in 1962, the school has built itself on the conviction that teaching Molière’s language to the speakers of Shakespeare’s would encourage the emergence of a Canadian national sentiment, while providing new perspectives on the diversity of the world. Nearly 60 years later, TFS remains loyal to its mission.
“Toronto French” was the name representing the young and bold bilingual institution founded in the heart of Ontario’s capital. In 1962, a few years before Canada’s 100th birthday, the country still had a long way to go to unite as a nation. At that time, several early proponents held the belief that mastering the two official languages of Canada, English and French, would allow everyone to extend a hand to one another — to walk shoulder to shoulder towards a common destiny. TFS became the first French immersion school to open its doors in Ontario.
Conceived as a project of national significance from the start, its scope remains nevertheless international. Thanks to teachers from all corners of the francophone world — in the beginning primarily from Lebanon, then from the Maghreb, France, and also, of course, the various francophone regions of Canada, TFS gradually shaped itself as a cultural mosaic, reflective of contemporary Canadian society and its changing demographics. These educators brought along the diversity of their cultures, their passion for the French language and their thirst for sharing.
The school thus adopted a global vision founded on the fact that it was part of the francophone world. This is the context in which the French programs have gradually been introduced, offering students the chance to see the world through a new, different lens.
“Before arriving at TFS in Level I, although I spoke French pretty well as a result of prior enrolment in another francophone school, I knew nothing about France or about other francophone countries besides Canada. Thanks to TFS, not only did I continue to improve my French, but I also gained new perspectives. This has allowed me to imagine the future with an eye open to the world,” stated Ryan W., a Level V/Grade 12 student, in his letter to the Head of School sent when he graduated from TFS in 2021.
Supported by the invaluable cultural heritage of its community, TFS’s ambition is to open the eyes of its students to the surrounding world and develop citizens capable of contributing fully to it. In this sense, the Francophonie is an extraordinary resource. The celebration of the International Day of the Francophonie at the Senior School, in conjunction with young francophones from Spain, France and Morocco, as well as their exploration of the diverse — sometimes unexpected — francophone regions of the world, encourage our students to become aware of the influence of the French language and the opportunities that it provides.
Furthermore, this past year for the first time, TFS partnered with the Semaine de la francophonie de Toronto, an annual event which brings together a variety of partners involved with the Francophonie of Toronto to celebrate the French language in all its forms and diversity. Our school had the privilege of presenting two virtual workshops, one dedicated to the musical story Peter and the Wolf, and the other focusing on the most unusual French expressions. These were presented, respectively, by a music teacher from La p’tite école, and a documentalist teacher from the Senior School. This participation represents another expression of honouring the original mission of TFS while committing to look into the future… en français.