French is the mother tongue of one in five Canadians and approximately 81,085 Albertans. According to the 2011 Census information, Alberta's Francophone population is growing faster than any French-speaking population in Canada. The Francophone population grew by approximately 18 per cent since 2006.

In areas where the Francophone population is concentrated, e.g., St. Paul, Bonnyville, Peace River, Calgary and Edmonton, people continue to speak French at home and can obtain a greater number of services in French. Four municipalities are officially bilingual:

  • Beaumont (15 km southeast of Edmonton)
  • Legal (35 km north of Edmonton)
  • Falher (420 km northwest of Edmonton)
  • Plamondon (204 km northeast of Edmonton)

Continued Popularity of French Programs

The overall number of Alberta students enrolled in French language programs is rising steadily: 198,264 or 29 per cent of kindergarten to grade 12 students were enrolled in either French Immersion, Francophone or French Second Language programs in 2014-15.

The availability of alternative French language programs, including French immersion programs, is increasing. Over 130 school authorities offer programs with 42,285 students participating in French immersion programs (2014-15). This represents 6.3 per cent of the Alberta student population. Alberta has the highest rate of enrolment in Canada for the International Diploma recognizing French-language proficiency, the Diplome d'études de langue française or DELF - administered by France's Ministry of Education. 2,219 students from Alberta were assessed in 2014-15 and achieved a success rate of 94 per cent.

Growth is also occurring within Alberta's 39 Francophone schools, where the curriculum is in French - aside from English Language Arts. In 2015-16, 7,430 students (K-12) were enrolled in francophone schools, 8,586 including early childhood services (ECS) enrolments.

French as a second language (FSL) continues to attract a significant number of students annually. In 2014-15, provincial enrolment (K-12) was 148,711.

Many francophone and Immersion students choose to continue their studies in French at the post-secondary level. On top of French language courses offered at many Alberta post-secondary institutions, the University of Alberta offers a number of college, undergraduate and graduate programs completely in French through Centre collegial de l’Alberta and Campus Saint-Jean.

Increasing Bilingual Population

French is a common second language for Canadians, in large because it is widely used and accessible throughout the country. This is true also in Alberta, where the number of bilingual residents is rising steadily. According to the 2011 Census, the Province ranked fifth in bilingual population, 238,770 Albertans were bilingual compared to 178,505 in 1996, an increase of 34 per cent.

Changing economic and social relations are creating a demand for enhanced skills in an ever-increasing number of entrepreneurial, professional and technical fields. As more and more businesses are committed to providing services in more than one language and as an increasing number of Albertans are bilingual, Alberta is more than ever positioned to meet this challenge.

Download a bilingual information sheet on Statistics.

Last reviewed/revised: November 30, 2017
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