Rates of kids in French Immersion rise, number of qualified teachers still low

According to a report released this week, more students in British Columbia are participating in French language programs than ever before.

The report showed that, province-wide, French immersion enrollment has been increasing for 17 consecutive years.

In the 2014/15 school year, there were over 50,000 BC students in French Immersion – 343 students of which were in the Peace River North region, amounting to almost 6% of all students in the district.

But the booming popularity of this program is creating a shortage of qualified French language teachers for all schools.

Here in School district 60, Assistant Superintendent of School District 60 Stephen Petrucci says there is a wait-list for French Immersion due to the high demand.

According to Petrucci, the district often looks for teachers out east, in more French-centric regions of the country like Quebec if they can’t find teachers here immediately.

“Any effort to maybe profile or highlight the benefits of coming to British Columbia for French Immersion teachers would certainly be welcome.” he said.

Some of the reported benefits of learning French as an additional language include: social mobility, career advancement, cultural understanding, and cognitive development.