Parents of immersion students, this is for you!

A wealth of French language digital resources for all learners

ONTARIO, Jan. 20 /CNW/ - So you're studying French as a second language and you'd love to polish your skills by reading a current Quebec bestseller—if only you knew which one might suit your tastes. 

Or perhaps your child is in French immersion and is trying to find information in French about crocodiles for a school project.

When French is not your first language, these dilemmas can seem daunting. Fortunately, Ontario's libraries, school boards, colleges and universities have been collaborating to provide a wide range of electronic French-language products and services across the province.

Knowledge Ontario, a not-for-profit collaborative, coordinates these initiatives, which include the following:

  • Resource Ontario, a collection of online databases with content in French or content that users can easily machine translate into French. The databases include everything from the broad Canada in Context collection, perfect for high school students, to specialized topics and legal journals.
  • ONdemande, an online service where library users can get research help in French through a chat session with a library staff member. 
  • A partnership with BiblioCommons makes the library online experience more like that on a social networking site. On a participating library's website, users can list their favourite books, compare them with those of other users and post comments about the books they've read, in both French and English.

BiblioCommons is one easy way to find recommendations and reviews of French-language books available in their local library, says Jennifer Stirling, manager of digital services at the Ottawa Public Library. "We get a lot of feedback from people about how it's extended their ability to find things," she says.

Jean MacGregor, coordinator of adult and information services at the Ottawa Public Library, says ONdemande is a valuable aid for clients studying French, helping both anglophones and francophones get access to French-language databases. Because these databases are less numerous than English-language databases, they can be harder to track down. "I think they appreciate having [these services] available," says MacGregor.

The Township of Russell Public Library, located in a largely francophone region just east of Ottawa, joined ONdemande this month. Like other participants, it provides library staff members for a few hours each week to answer online inquiries in French submitted by people across the province.

Claire Dionne, the library's CEO, notes that the cooperative nature of ONdemande—libraries pool the time of their French-speaking staff—is a boon to libraries with few French-speaking staff members. "It makes it possible for them to offer services in French that they couldn't offer themselves."

Thanks to Knowledge Ontario and its many partner organizations, it's easy for adults and children studying French to move beyond the assigned textbooks. If you'd like to hone your language skills by reading a professional journal or devouring a paperback thriller—or if your child is seeking a French online encyclopedia with a good entry on reptiles—help is as close as your computer keyboard.

About Knowledge Ontario
Knowledge Ontario (KO) serves Ontarians through five digital services. KO is a not-for-profit collaborative of public libraries, colleges, universities, school boards, museums, archives, historical associations, hospitals and health libraries. It is committed to equity of access to excellent digital tools for all Ontarians. Knowledge Ontario is funded through partner organizations and the Government of Ontario.

KO in a nutshell: 2 minute video

SOURCE Knowledge Ontario

For further information:

Louise Slobodian, Communications
Knowledge Ontario

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Knowledge Ontario

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