British Columbia

Surrey struggles to find teachers for French immersion

Surrey is looking as far as Quebec and France to find teachers to meet demand for its French immersion program.

French immersion coordinator says demand for program makes finding teachers difficult

Demand for French immersion is so high, the school district is struggling to find enough teachers for the program. (iStock)

The Surrey school district says it's increasingly difficult to find and retain teachers for its French immersion program partly due to rising demand.

Alicia Logie, the Surrey School District's French immersion coordinator, told CBC's The Early Edition there is a great need for teachers.

"We look for them here in the Lower Mainland where we have French immersion graduates to become teachers. We also recruit outside of B.C., to Quebec and some coming from France," she said.

Part of the reason the district is looking for teachers, she said, is the increasing appeal of French immersion programming.

"Families are recognizing more and more these days the importance of speaking another language, especially one of our official languages in Canada," she said.

"We wouldn't want to close the door on Canadians who want to learn both of our official languages and want to be fluent and bilingual in both of those languages."

Logie said there are a few hundred parents on the waiting list for French immersion in Surrey every year.

"When you increase a French immersion program, you've got to have room for that. We're struggling to find room for all of our students here in Surrey," she said. 

But Logie said she also has to make sure students who are already in the program are well-supported, especially in one of the fastest-growing school districts in the province.

"In general, our education system is a little bit stretched right now ... I think we could use some help in the coordination and recruitment of teachers."

According to Canadian Parents for French, there were 3,398 students enrolled in French immersion during the 2015 to 2016 school year in the Surrey school district or 4.79 per cent of total enrolment.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Surrey struggles to find teachers for French immersion