A new report from Canadian Parents for French says a record number of B.C. students are choosing French immersion and French language programs.

The report found during the 2015-2016 school year, 52,545 students were enrolled in French immersion across B.C., or 9.5 per cent of the entire student body.

This marks a 4.45 per cent increase from the previous school year, when 50,308 students were enrolled.

It's part of an overall trend of increasing enrolment over the past 18 years according to the group, and the students also make up a larger proportion of the overall student body.

Patti Holm, president of the organization in B.C., describes the program as a powerful tool for students.

"French immersion is designed to help students become functionally bilingual by the time they graduate. It's a powerful tool in your toolbox, and graduates can use it in many different ways."

Shortage of qualified staff

One downfall of the increased popularity of the program is a shortage of qualified French language teachers.

A 2015 report by Canadian Parents for French found a combination of a lack of qualified teaching staff together with stiff competition between school districts made it difficult to find and retain teachers.

Some critics have argued a lack of qualified teaching staff means fewer students emerge with French proficiency, and some districts have even capped enrolment to deal with a lack of resources.