Welcome to the Post-Secondary Immersion Research Group (PSIRG).

The University of Ottawa has a long history of 2nd language teaching through immersion. The creation of French Immersion Studies in 2006 has given professors the opportunity to further explore the pedagogical and linguistic challenges posed by the delivery of second language instruction through an immersion model at the university level.

PSIRG was founded in December 2014 as a research group of the CCERBAL (Canadian Centre for Studies and Research on Bilingualism and Language Planning) of OLBI at the University of Ottawa.

The goal of this group is to link professors, specialists and eminent researchers in sharing their expertise and contributing to the development of immersion research in Canada at the university level.

Members of PSIRG disseminate their research findings through active participation at colloquia and conferences and the publication of their research.


PSIRG Annual Meeting

Fifteen months of immersion in a pandemic context: what now?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 1-5 pm, via Zoom

The Covid19 pandemic has had and continues to have an impact on the activities of all University-level immersion stakeholders – administrators, researchers, teachers, practitioners or students. This virtual PSIRG get-together, entitled Fifteen months of pandemic: what now?, seeks first to look back at the repercussions on our research, conferences, classroom practices, and also to look towards the future and reflect on the perspectives created by these new circumstances. The event will focus on three aspects:

  1. Research : The book launches, publications, and conference presentations by PSIRG members that were rescheduled or otherwise affected by the pandemic
  2. Pedagogy: A panel of language support classes instructors in the French Immersion Stream discussing adapting to the online/ distance context
  3. Immersion in English: First, a panel of language support classes instructors discussing language support classes for international students at the Telfer School of Management; then a pre-recorded presentation by guest speaker David Lasagabaster on team teaching between language and content teachers in English-medium instruction; and finally, a presentation of uOttawa’s pilot project in Immersion in English by the Director of the French Immersion Stream.

Register for this free event with this form which will also give you the connection information.


From 21 to 23 November 2019

Grinu ACS

[From left to right : Hélène Knoerr, Catherine Buchanan, Alysse Weinberg and Laura Castano Laverde]

University Immersion and its impact on Students: The current situation

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, the Association for Canadian Studies, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and Canadian Parents for French hosted a bilingual summit fostering linguistic duality within the context of increasing diversity and multiple identities. The conference took place from 21 to 23 November 2019 in Gatineau. Six PSIRG members participated: Hélène Knoerr chaired a bilingual panel entitled University Immersion and its impact on Students: The current situation, with papers presented by Hélène Knoerr, Laura Castano Laverde, Catherine Buchanan, Alysse Weinberg, Jérémie Séror and Thierry Simonet. This panel was made possible by funding from PSIRG.


From 15th October to 18th October 2019


Bilingual Spaces, Multilingual Values: a case study.

The 6th ICLHE Conference (Integrating Language and Content in Higher Education), Multilingualism and Multimodality in Higher Education, took place in Castellón (Spain) from 15th October to 18th October 2019 with the objective to share research results in which participants identify several types of multimodality in multilingual higher education institutions. Professor Jérémie Séror presented a paper co-authored with Alysse Weinberg and Thierry Simonet entitled Bilingual Spaces, Multilingual Values: a case study.

More details


April 4, 2019


Graham Fraser, Commissaire aux langues officielles de 2006 à 2016 et ardent défenseur de l’immersion. Les étudiants du séminaire de maîtrise BIL5520

Selected topics in Bilingualism Studies – Postsecondary level Immersion

The PSIRG hosted a mini symposium on immersion in higher education, with special guest Graham Fraser, Commissioner of Official Languages from 2006 to 2016 and a strong advocate of immersion. Students from the BIL 5520 Masters seminar – Selected topics in bilingualism studies: Immersion in higher education, taught by Professor Hélène Knoerr – presented their research projects to an engaged and informed audience. Students and professors from the Masters in Bilingualism Studies were in attendance, as well as Kevin Kee, Dean of the Faculty of arts, Anne-Chantal Soucie, Interim director of the Régime d’immersion en français, and Alysse Weinberg, PSIRG chair. This event allowed presenters and participants to engage in enriching conversations and to share perspectives. Thank you to all and congratulations to the four student presenters!

More details


February 20, 2019

Public presentation of « Current Issues in University Immersion”

Current Issues in University Immersion

Public presentation of « Current Issues in University Immersion”, a GRINU publication, at the University of Barcelona on February 20, 2019.

More Info







October 4-7, 2017

ICLHE Conferences

The ICLHE (Integrating Content and Language in Higher Education) Conference 2017 has just been held in Copenhagen. Three members of the GRINU (Catherine Buchanan, Hélène Knoerr and Jérémie Séror) participated and presented papers on the French Immersion Studies. This Regime was the envy of European professors who indicated that our practices and pedagogy that underlie the Immersion Studies offer inspiring trends for other educational programs of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). Our colleagues had fruitful discussions with the other participants of the Conference.





December 5, 2016

New book explores the ABCs of university-level French immersion

Few Canadian universities offer French-immersion programs, yet such programs abound at the primary and secondary levels. A new book looks at this scarcity and offers solutions to foster new programs.


In 2012, at an international scholarly forum in Ottawa on the topic of French immersion at universities, the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, Graham Fraser, lamented the almost total absence of these programs in Canada. As it stands, they are only offered at the University of Ottawa, York University’s Glendon College, the University of Alberta’s St‑Jean campus and Simon Fraser University.

That more than 340,000 Canadian elementary and high school students are enrolled in French immersion makes this lack of university-level immersion even more shameful, said Mr. Fraser. He noted that when these students finish Grade 12 and face a lack of opportunities to pursue immersion, most return to English-language institutions – it seems a waste to invest so much effort in elementary and high school, only to give up at the postsecondary level.

Building a French-immersion pedagogy

At the same event, organizers Hélène Knoerr and Alysse Weinberg, professors at the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute at the University of Ottawa, listened attentively to Aline Gohard-Radenkovic, a guest speaker from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. She argued that a unique teaching method must be developed for university-level French immersion. None existed, and methods developed for elementary and secondary schools could not be applied to postsecondary institutions. A new paradigm was needed.

“As we talked, we quickly determined that since this education didn’t exist, we had to create it, and we decided to tackle it together,” Dr. Knoerr said. Thus began a project that would lead to L’immersion française à l’université : politiques et pédagogies, an edited essay collection published in French by the University of Ottawa Press. (The book will also be featured at a symposium on immersion at the University of Ottawa in May 2017.)

A flexible, adaptable framework

In addition to surveying existing university French-immersion programs, the book sets out an administrative, methodological and educational framework for implementing such initiatives. In doing so, it tries to account for the highly diverse needs and means of different institutions. For example, some 25 students attend the immersion program at SFU, while U of Ottawa welcomes 700 each year. Clearly, different tools need to be devised.

“We had to develop a three-pronged framework: policies and funding to foster these programs, services and support for students and faculty in various disciplines, and defining the specific needs of each university based on its circumstances,” Dr. Knoerr explained. “For example, the University of Ottawa is bilingual and offers every program of study in both languages. Introducing and maintaining an immersion program would be easier there than at an institution starting from scratch.”

Naturally, Dr. Knoerr hopes that the book will help address the challenges preventing the development of university-level French immersion programs. After all, elementary and high schools have had French immersion since the 1960s.

“We hope that our book will encourage university administrators to offer these opportunities and that it will inspire students to be adventurous,” Dr. Knoerr said. “It may even spur other countries to introduce similar programs, such as Spanish immersion programs in the United States. The framework developed in the book is not limited to Canada or the French language.”


October 20, 2016


Hélène Knoerr, Alysse Weinberg et Catherine Buchanan ont mené un symposium intitulé University-Level French Immersion in Canada: Policies, Pedagogy and Practices lors de la "Sixth International Conference on Immersion and Dual Language Education: Connecting Research and Practice Across Contexts" organisée par CARLA (The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition ) à Minneapolis.

Ce symposium s'appuyait sur le livre  Immersion française à l’université : Politiques et pédagogies paru en 2016  aux Presses de l'Université d'Ottawa  et  abordait trois aspects étudiés dans ce livre à savoir: les politiques nécessaires lors de l'implantation d'un programme d'immersion au niveau universitaire, les modèles d'apprentissage et la formation des enseignants et finalement des exemples d'activités pédagogiques gagnantes.




October 7, 2016 

Hélène Knoerr donnera une conférence intitulée :  Immersion française à l’université : Politiques et pédagogies, dans le cadre des Forums de l’ILOB le 7 octobre 2016 au Pavillon Simard, pièce 129.

Cette présentation s’articulera autour des trois niveaux d’analyse de l’immersion au niveau universitaire : macro (politiques linguistiques et aménagements pour l’immersion universitaire en français), méso (les dispositifs d’immersion en français au niveau post-secondaire dans les universités canadiennes et plus particulièrement celui de l’Université d’Ottawa) et micro (l’immersion de l’intérieur : témoignages des différents acteurs de l’immersion à l’Université d’Ottawa). Nous terminerons par des recommandations pour le succès de la mise en œuvre de dispositifs d’immersion.

May 30-31 & June 1, 2016 

Alysse Weinberg, Jérémie Séror et Thierry Simonet présenteront une conférence à Calgary dans le cadre de l’Association canadienne de linguistique appliquée sur Les facteurs d’attrition et de rétention dans le Régime d’immersion en français de l’Université d’Ottawa.

March 24, 2016



 Alexandre Marotte, a student in the Second Language Teaching program at the Ottawa University recently presented a research poster at the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program Symposium. The poster et June 1Interacting with the other! Towards language and identity development" reported on a project conducted under the supervision of Jeremie Seror a professor at the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute. His poster underscored the key role interactions with Francophones play for first year students in the French immersion program at the University of Ottawa as a means not only of improving their French, but also of testing and seeking to balance their complex identities as plurilingual learners.


March 5, 2016



Alysse Weinberg et Jérémie Séror had the pleasure to present at the Annual Centre for Research on French Canadian Culture conference. The theme of the conference was: Canadian bilingualism as project: The history of a utopia and its realization. Their talked entitled: University-level immersion: Towards the realization of Canadian bilingualism stressed the contribution of university immersion programs as a means of creating unique academic and social spaces where French language learners can participate in activities which value and reinforce the qualities and skills which make Canadian bilingualism a reality for these students.



February, 2016



Alysse Weinberg had the pleasure to present at the International Spring Conference 2016 in Tel Aviv University in Israel organized by the Higher Education in Israel Network of English Teachers. The theme of the conference was: Current Trends and Future Directions for English in Higher Education: Widening Horizons for Teachers, Students, and Graduates. Her talk was  entitled: Discipline and Language Professors’ Collaboration in the uOttawa Immersion Program. She presented the relationship between two major actors in the immersion program: the language professors and their discipline counterparts. She highlighted the tensions arising from the different status of these professors and the benefits of their collaboration especially in the context of a history course.



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