Demand for French immersion is on the rise leading to a shortage of qualified teachers for the programs across B.C. (Canadian Parents for French)

Pressure to recruit French immersion teachers with increasing enrolment in B.C.

Provincewide popularity on the rise leading to nationwide recruiting drives

With increased interest in French immersion in B.C. comes increased pressure to find qualified teachers.

Currently, teaching programs in British Columbia are not meeting the demand for French-speaking teachers, which leads recruiting drives across the country in addition to to some imperfect scenarios in classrooms.

“There continues to be challenges in recruiting French immersion teachers,” according to Chilliwack School District principal of human resources Diego Testa.

“There is a limited pool being produced out of the universities locally. All districts are recruiting further afield.”

Testa said his team has been to job fairs across the country in Ottawa, Toronto and other universities in Ontario.

In the spring, the Ministry of Education even went as far as Europe to recruit.

• READ MORE: Education minister off to Europe to recruit French teachers

And while there have been challenges, Testa maintains almost all positions in his district are filled properly at this time. There are a couple of circumstances causing short-term problems, he conceded, one involving a teacher being held to a 30-day notice from leaving another school district. She won’t be in town until October.

In other situations they’ve had to double up with two teachers in a high school class when, for example, there is an English-speaking social studies teacher being helped with the language by a primary level French teacher.

“We do have temporary measures in some of these circumstances,” Testa said.

But some parents are already reporting situations where their children in late French immersion high school classes being taught by English-only speaking teachers.

Meghan Reid said her daughter is in Grade 9 at Sardis secondary and has a long-term English-only substitute teaching French and Science French, with another English-only substitute teaching social studies French.

She’s been told by the principal that the shortage of teachers mean there is no resolution on the horizon.

“They do not expect to get French substitutes due to the French teacher shortage,” she said.

All this points to the ever-increasing demand for French immersion, according to the Canadian Parents for French B.C. and Yukon.

“French immersion is a well-established and highly regarded program,” said Diane Tijman, president of Canadian Parents for French BC & Yukon. “Designed to help students become functionally bilingual by the time they graduate, the program’s effects are very real, empowering young people and opening doors in so many different ways.”

While overall enrolment in schools is actually decreasing across B.C. (from 606,383 total enrolment in 2004/2005 to 563,247 in 2017/2018) French immersion enrolment is on the rise.

Last school year, 53,487 students were enrolled in French immersion across B.C., or 9.5 per cent of the entire student body. That’s an increase of 50 per cent since 2004/2005.

“As a result of the booming popularity of this well-established program, districts around the province are scrambling to find enough qualified teachers and teaching assistants,” the CPF said in a press release.

According to Stats Canada, the CPF release stated, Canadians who speak both French and English earn, on average, 10 per cent more, and have a lower unemployment rate, compared to Canadians who only speak one of the two official languages.

“As well, there are cognitive developmental benefits of learning an additional language, such as: stronger listening skills, improved focus and concentration, increased ability to understand complex problems and higher tolerance, insight and understanding of other cultures.”

As for human resources departments across B.C., they are left scrambling to market their respective communities to draw French immersion teachers from across Canada.

Testa is optimistic but he believes the pressure may remain for a number of years as universities are not able to be as nimble as is needed to meet demand.

“Things are certainly getting better,” he said. “Promoting that there’s steady work available in B.C. and the Fraser Valley and Chilliwack has helped us and is helping us to be more successful.

“I don’t know what’s on the horizon. I feel like we are turning the corner on some of the shortages in general, but some of these specialty area will continue to be a challenge for the next little bit.”

• RELATED: No more teacher shortage, B.C. education ministry says


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

New traffic lanes for Six Mile west of Burns Lake coming soon

Construction to begin on lane extension and traffic improvement

Chamber names new board for 2020

And emphasizes that Houston is open for business

Houston to host high speed electric vehicle charging station

It will be installed and paid for by BC Hydro

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach urges feds to compensate airline passengers

Letter to transport minister touches on Northwest B.C. tourism operators impacted by COVID-19

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson says he’s heard no concerns from public

Most Read