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.”
Here’s a hint : It isn’t the french. The schools with this curriculum are filled with good parents and kids and they are the best schools in town because of it. Because it takes an effort to put your kids in French Immersion, the parents are usually more involved with the schools etc.
I will start by saying that both my kids have Double Dogwoods because they both attended french immersion school. The greatest single effect on my kids , in my humble opinion, was the core group of kids that were in their class every year. Certainly some kids don’t take to the program and leave but there is a core group that stays. Those school relationships are lasting because they are 12 years in the making.
I also agree with isthisreallife. Parents are engaged with the school in the immersion programs. They also make the school stronger. There are certain schools in the district that would love to offer immersion programming to their families.
Mr. Cable’s last comment about overcrowding, which IS AN ISSUE RIGHT NOW, is insulting to me.
There are many children who have a sibling in Duchess Park (the only high school for French Immersion) who have been denied a spot in the school because of overcrowding.
The District has been aware (or possibly very unaware, due to lack of foresight) of this problem and didn’t deal with hence the overcrowding at Duchess Park.
Children are not being allowed to attend the same school their siblings attend because of the overcrowding at Duchess Park.
What Mr. Cable forgot to mention was that the school board has tabled a motion to remove Edgewood Elementary School from the Duchess catchment because Duchess is so full.
The District is only just capping French Immersion this year (after many years of letting it grow unfettered) which will not reduce the problem for another 6 or 7 years.
This, in my humble opinion, is a straight forward mismanagement on the District and Board’s part of student numbers. Someone should have seen this coming and put preventative measures in place before it affected some children.
I thought French Immersion existed only to give kids an opportunity to get a cushy job with the Feds.
Could be the silliest thing I ever read on here. You will certainly have a better chance of getting into the civil service being bilingual but you will also have as good a chance as a visible homeless female minority.
That’s a common misconception but if you look at the job postings for the federal government, you’ll see that there are LOADS of jobs that only require English.
Of course there are also jobs that require one to be bilingual, especially in the National Capital Region, but that’s to be expected when you work for an organization that administers programs in places where French is readily spoken.
Our son is in French immersion out here and it’s been an interesting experience thus far considering that both his mother and I only speak English. It’s allot of work for him, but it’s amazing how quickly the kids can pick it up when they are immersed in it.
We chose that route for a variety of reasons. Looking longer term, being bilingual in Ottawa is obviously a good thing for career opportunities (both public and private sector jobs). More than that though, I think it will broaden his experience and expose him to challenges that he wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. I think this can only help his analytical and learning development.
It’s interesting how in Canada we have so many unilingual people. I work with allot of people who immigrated here from Europe and North Africa and most of them learned to speak 3 or 4 languages growing up. We really are sheltered in many ways.
I was being somewhat facetious with my comment.
Learning a second, third, fourth, etc. language opens up a while lot of doors for a person. Not just employment opportunities but the world is a much friendlier (and less scarier) place when you can converse with the locals.
LOL, I like how the article says Canada is a bilingual country then says if you want to work in Quebec or France there are great opportunities, no mention of any other Province.
They should have added Ottawa
A more accurate statement probably should’ve been that there may be more opportunities in certain locations.
It doesn’t mean that being bilingual won’t be beneficial if you work elsewhere, nor does it mean that you will be shut out of the job market if you aren’t.
It’s a skill. The more skilled you are, the better your odds.
The article is thinking of it from the point of view of most people in this area, who are English speakers. A similar article in a publication in Quebec would no doubt point out the advantages of learning English. Someone who speaks only French will not do well on the job market outside of Quebec, and even in Quebec, English is useful for many jobs.
If the school board had a serious interest in the kids really getting ahead career-wise, they would offer Spanish or Mandarin immersion.
Mandarun,or Japanese, would be benefits in BC, especially in the lower mainland, and Vancouver Island, where tourism is huge.
I kind of have to agree with a lot of the comments above, except, the one thing that is the white elephant in the room that no one is really talking about is. I would bet the ratio of special need kids in the classroom is way lower in the French immersion. The parents are being selfish and using the system, to give their kids a chance to get the most out of the teachers, who has time to teach kids instead of dealing with distractants.
I am not saying that the special needs kids should not be in the mainstream, they need the social aspect to be functional. The administrators and funders has to recognize that more money is required to deal with kids with special needs, instead of trying to keep stuffing the white elephant in the corner. We are not talking the local area, this goes all the way back to Victoria.
my two bits worth.
That is exactly the issue. I am a super-involved parent, and was flat out told by the school that my child with (really minor) special needs, who needed the smallest accommodation was not welcome in French immersion because, and I quote, “The school district’s opinion is that if your child needs disability supports, they should not be in French immersion”.
Fortunately, she is flourishing in an English school, but this is exactly how FI programs score so highly.
No first hand experience but have been told no special needs in French immersion.
My boy is not quite five yet and understands three languages already. If he gets into French emmersion than that will be his forth language. I think having the kids learn French is very important if one is to have any real economic opportunity in Canada.
I wonder how many ENGLISH IMMERSION schools are in Quebec? Where the language police will give you a good scolding if your English sign is to big or to prominent. Where you’d be hard pressed to find a Canadian flag. Seems like a one way street to me.
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