French immersion enrolment sets new record in district

Students in B.C. are setting a record for participating in French language programs and the Shuswap is no exception

  • Sep. 8, 2016 7:00 p.m.
Isabelle Gervais

Isabelle Gervais

By Eli Berry
MARKET NEW STAFF

Students in B.C. are setting a record for participating in French language programs and the Shuswap is no exception.

This is according to a recent report by the Canadian Parents for French British Columbia & Yukon

In the 2015/16 school year, 764 students in North Okanagan-Shuswap School District #83 were registered in the program, or 13 per cent of the student body, the release said.

“French immersion here in the (region) is definitely popular. Parents are looking at strong educational opportunities. (There’s) educational benefits for having a strong second language,” said Bastion Elementary principal and district French immersion co-ordinator Isabelle Gervais.

Both early and late French immersion programs are full with a few students on the wait list, she said.

Province-wide French immersion enrolment has been increasing for 18  years, the report said.

“Over the last 10 years we have definitely gotten bigger, but now we are filling everything we offer,” said Gervais.

Two classes are offered at each grade level in early immersion, with two additional classes offered with late French immersion.

“Bastion has pretty full classes, whether in French or in English. We’re getting pretty close to max numbers.”

Early French immersion is offered at Bastion, from kindergarten to Grade 5, with late immersion starting at Shuswap Middle School from Grades 6 to 8.

The popularity of the program is creating a shortage of qualified French language teachers in B.C., the release said, but not locally.

“We always try to be proactive,” said Gervais. The district recruits teachers in the spring in preparation for the fall.

In B.C. 52,545 students were enrolled in French immersion across B.C., or 9.5 per cent of the entire student body during the 2015/16 school year.