French Immersion a Popular Choice in Prince George
Prince George, B.C. – British Columbians just can’t seem to get enough of French immersion.
A new report from Canadian Parents For French reveals enrolment in French immersion programs has increased 18 consecutive years’ province-wide and made up 8% (1,044 students) of the entire student body in the Prince George School District last year.
“It’s exciting news whenever we have any program in our district that’s growing and parents and students are excited to get involved,” says Prince George School Board Chair Tony Cable. “I think it’s a good news story.”
Three elementary schools offer French immersion programs in the district: College Heights, Ecole Lac des Bois and Heather Park elementary schools. The secondary component is offered at Duchess Park Secondary School.
What makes the popularity of French immersion so interesting is that it’s happening during an era of decreasing enrolment overall.
“If we go back to 2006/2007, our total enrolment in the district was 15,688 and now we’re down to 12,988,” he says. “But if we look at a comparison with French immersion our enrolment in 2006/2007 was at 661 students and now we’re at 1,044.”
So why does he think it’s so popular?
“I think people are beginning to realize how important it is in a bilingual country to be able to speak another language and there are certain job opportunities that people can have if they have a second language,” says Cable. “And if people wanted to work in Quebec or France, there’s some great opportunities.”
He adds he’s confident the district has the capacity to keep dealing with its continued popularity.
“At this time we certainly do,” says Cable, adding he’s hoping the district’s overall enrolment will show an increase once the preliminary numbers are released sometime next week.
“We have strategies in place that we could put in effect if our enrollment does go up – especially French immersion. But right now the three schools that offer French immersion are looking good and they can accommodate the students.”
And if overcrowding becomes an issue?
“As the public knows the school district does own other schools and facilities that we’ve closed down in different areas of town and if we were in the great situation that we had to open other schools, there could be some possibilities there for sure.”