VICTORIA - Students are joining in French immersion Celebration Week events from Feb. 4-10, 2019, marking 50 years of the education program helping students in B.C. to become bilingual.
“As we celebrate 50 years of French immersion in the province, let’s reflect upon how incredibly positive it is that so many B.C. families see the benefits of bilingualism, and that French immersion is growing tremendously in popularity,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “This week is a great chance to shine a bright light on the educators and school staff who are creating innovative French language programs that empower kids throughout British Columbia.”
“With the growing popularity of French Immersion, it becomes even more important to have programs and services available in the province for people who speak French,” said Adrian Dix, Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs in B.C. “It is very gratifying to me to know that French language and culture in our Province are strong and continue to flourish in large part because of our French Immersion students, teachers and families.”
“We want to thank all the parents and educators who have given so many hours over the years to promoting and supporting bilingualism in communities all around the province,” said Glyn Lewis, executive director of the Canadian Parents for French – B.C. & Yukon. “Thanks in large part to their efforts, hundreds of thousands of young British Columbians have been enriched over the years by learning our official languages. What an incredible milestone to celebrate!”
- a 50 Years of French Immersion Celebration on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at Pitt River Middle school in Coquitlam;
- the Carnaval d’hiver in Nelson on Friday, Feb. 8, where students will have a visit from Bonhomme and an outdoor fire;
- the Maple Man event in Saanich on Jan. 24 and Feb. 25, where 800 elementary school students will learn about the sugar shacks of Quebec; and
- a French movie night on Friday, Feb. 8 at the Kitimat Community Theatre.
- French immersion classes in B.C. started in the 1968-69 school year at Alderson Elementary in Coquitlam with a group of 32 kindergarten students. Now, 53,995 students attend French immersion classes, which is about 9.5% of the B.C. public school population. British Columbia has experienced an increase of 23% more French immersion students in the last 10 years.
- To meet the growing demand for French language teachers, the Ministry of Education is leading several initiatives to attract more French educators to British Columbia, including:
- Adding 74 teacher education seats at post-secondary institutions, with 37 student teachers doing their practicum in classrooms this year.
- International partnerships that have meant 17 teachers from France have been certified to work in B.C., and an additional 31 applications from France and Belgium are awaiting evaluation for certification.
- Scholarship awards of $3,000 each for prospective teachers from France who want to work in B.C.
- Bursaries of up to $1,600 to students enrolled in French teacher education programs in B.C., with funding from the Government of Canada.