Glyn Lewis, Executive Director of Canadian Parents for French BC & YK recently attended the consultations in Vancouver, BC on September 9th, 2016. He has publicly shared his presentation made to Canadian Heritage. In his presentation, Lewis highlights some of the current challenges facing British Columbia in the delivery of French Immersion and Core French to BC's schools. He cites three areas of concern:
- Access to Core French and French Immersion is a problem. The demand for French programs is exceeding capacity.
- French teacher shortage. According a CPF report, 86% of school districts that offer French immersion indicated that is "challenging" or "very challenging" to hire enough qualified French immersion teachers and that the teacher shortage is now the primary reason why school districts find themselves unable to expand or create new French immersion programs. In 2007, BCATML conducted a comprehensive study by Dr. Wendy Carr (Teaching Core French in British Columbia: Teachers' Perspectives) which showed 78% of elementary school Core French teachers and 71% of middle school teachers did not feel comfortable speaking French. This speaks to the quality of Core French, the lack of language proficiency of Core French students, and the very high attrition rates witnessed at the high school grades.
- The need to create more authentic linguistic and cultural experiences which, according to Lewis, are invaluable portals for young British Columbians and Yukoners to French in a meaningful way and experience the vibrancy of the French language and culture beyond the classroom walls. Such experiences inspire young students to continue with their language education.
Lewis offered a number of recommendations to Federal Government (Department of Canadian Heritage), the Provincial Government, and post-secondary institutions. Here are but a few:
- Improve, expand, or offer different French immersion teacher training programs.
- Make high school and post-secondary students aware of the acute shortage of French teaching positions to encourage them to pursue a career as a French teacher.
- Create incentives for teacher training in French.
- Create labour mobility agreements between provinces and standardized teacher certification requirements to facilitate out of province bilingual teachers to work in BC-Yukon.
- Increase recruitment of French-speaking teachers from abroad.
- Increase authentic language immersion opportunities for post-secondary students and teacher candidates and provide bursaries to encourage attendance.
- Improve the teaching of Core French by creating specialist positions for Core French at the elementary and middle school levels.
- Add the certification requirement for all new teachers to take one second language methodology course.
- Greater work and educational exchanges to French speaking communities across Canada and around the world,
- Creating deeper links between French Second Language and French First Language youth, and
- Enabling greater employment mobility between English and French speaking regions of the country.
BCATML's Trish Kolber (French Language Representative) and Rome Lavrencic (President) will attend the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages Wednesday, October 5, 2016. A formal presentation and list of recommendations will be made before the committee.
The full presentation made by Canadian Parents for French and Glyn Lewis can be found by clicking here or by following the link below in your browser.