Has French immersion for school children failed to live up to its promise?
The popularity of French immersion is exploding in Canada. But stats suggest the number of bilingual Canadians is dropping. Is the dream of bilingualism failing? With guest host Asha Tomlinson.
MORE FROM THIS EPISODE
Has French immersion for school children failed to live up to its promise? Half a century since Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau's dream of a bilingual Canada changed the face of schooling, French immersion programs are booming.
French immersion has become so popular in public schools from St. John's to Winnipeg to Victoria, that many parents find themselves competing for spots. Enrolment has jumped by 40% over the last decade. And some schools districts, like the one in Guelph, Ont., have had to cap the number of students they accept.
There are also fears that as ambitious parents use French immersion to give their children a competitive edge, they are also creating unhelpful divisions in the public education system. Some even argue that immersion is a way to give kids a private-style education, in smaller classes, without the hefty price tag.
Others point to a shortage of qualified French teachers and say that while many enrol, few students emerge with proficiency in both official languages. Still others point to the resources that are sucked out of the education system to support French immersion — to the detriment of the English stream.
What are your experiences with French immersion? Is the system working for you, where you live?
Caroline Alphonso is the education reporter for The Globe and Mail.
Carolyn Stacey is a French immersion teacher in Newfoundland.
Wendy Carr is associate dean of teacher education at the University of British Columbia.
Links & Articles
- La Vie Bilingue: French immersion programs in Canada through the ages
- French immersion 2017 enrollment to be capped in Guelph area (May 25, 2016)
- How has French enriched students' lives? CPF aims to let people know (May 25, 2016)
- Early French immersion reform faces more delays (Mar 24, 2016)
- Bilingualism declines for 1st time in 40 years (May 28, 2013)
- Newcomers to Canada enrolling children in French immersion (May 8, 2013)
- Of course French immersion is not perfect (June 12, 2016)
- Five-year-old Brendan has nine teachers in his bilingual kindergarten classes. His parents call it 'chaos' (Jan. 29, 2016)
- Bilingualism is the demand of Canada's linguistic aristocracy, by J. J. McCullough (Aug. 4, 2015)
- French Immersion should be for all (Apr. 21, 2015)
- For a province where native French speakers are a rounding error, Alberta sure loves immersion classes, by Jen Gherson (Feb. 27, 2015)
The Globe and Mail
- Halton to delay entry into French Immersion by one year (May 29, 2016)
- The Shrinking English Classroom (Mar. 7, 2016)
- Ontario schools struggle to keep students in French immersion
- Why French immersion should be in all schools or none at all (Jul. 5, 2013)
- Why Is French immersion so popular? (Feb. 5, 2013)
- Bilingualism helps ward off dementia, study shows (Jan. 8, 2013)
- French immersion enrolment skyrockets as a new linguistic category emerges (Jan. 28, 2013)
- Just say 'non': The problem with French immersion (April 2015)
- 8 things I wish I'd known about French immersion
- Should you put your kids in French Immersion?
- In defence of French Immersion