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.

Just Posted

CRD opens survey on 2018 wildfire response and impacts

The CRD closed its emergency operations centre this week

Pulled cattle guards going back in place despite B.C. Interior First Nations moose hunt protest

Forests minister Donaldson and TNG Chief Alphonse discuss situation, agree on path forward, ministry says

Cody Dillabough drops out of race for Quesnel City Council

The deadline for the withdrawal of candidates is Sept. 21 at 4 p.m.

Calling all artists: the Quesnel Art Gallery is looking for submissions

It can take between 20 and 30 individual pieces to fill the gallery

Quesnel bull rider as tough as they come

Lane Cork fights through injuries to take top spot in B.C.

WATCH: Correlieu students simulate driving heavy machinery

Local students given the chance to test out a career in the forestry industry

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

‘Summer from hell’: vandals rob Fort St. James community garden following devastating wildfire season

The community rallied to keep the Health Minds Community Garden open in Fort St. James

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Most Read