Nova Scotia

Halifax public schools seeing more international students

Enrolment at schools falling under the umbrella of the Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) may be on the downward trend, but the number of International students who don’t speak any English is on the rise.

At some classrooms at Halifax's Park West School, half of the students are learning English

Geeta Patel has a seven-year-old daughter who attends Park West School. (CBC)

Enrolment at schools falling under the umbrella of the Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) may be on the downward trend, but the number of international students who don’t speak any English is on the rise.

The school board has 19.5 staffers who are classified as English as an additional language (EAL) instructors. This is an increase of two positions over last year.

The changing face of education is on display at Park West School in Halifax where in some classrooms, there is a 50/50 split between children who speak English as their first language and those who are learning the language.

Park West principal Derek Carter says most of the non-English speaking students are from Israel and India.

"It can be a challenge, but you'd be amazed at how resilient children are and how quickly they pick up the language just being exposed to it. It's like immersion," he said.

Geeta Patel’s seven-year-old daughter Sonali attends Park West. Patel, whose first language is Hindi, would like to see more of an emphasis placed on teaching Canadian culture.

“I need to teach her about the Canadian culture,” she said.

Typically, families from Israel and India arrive here and become permanent residents, but HRSB says the most recent spike in international students is due to the growing number of temporary foreign workers.

HRSB will be briefed on the shifting trend at a meeting Wednesday evening.

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