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

Okanagan rinks have mixed results as BC Seniors Curling finals begin

A total of 15 rinks are competing in Vernon for right to go to nationals in Manitoba

‘The NDP of the ’90s is back’: Kelowna-Lake Country MLA voices concerns over 2020 budget

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick said the new budget is “classic NDP tax-and-spend”

Canadian Air Force joins Okanagan rescue of missing Kelowna snowmobiler

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

City of Kelowna signs UNHCR statement of solidarity with refugees

The #WithRefugees campaign invites cities working to promote inclusion and support refugees

Aquilini Group addresses heating complaints at SOPA Square in Kelowna

Some store owners have been without heat at development for up to a month

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Town of Osoyoos voices support for proposed casino

Osoyoos council voted to submit a letter of support for a proposed casino on OIB land

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Most Read