WATCH: More and more students are wanting to learn our second national language. Especially here in Greater Victoria where the number of students in French immersion is at a record high. Luisa Alvarez went to find out how the district is coping with the growth and why more parents are choosing French.
Every year that kids go back to school, a larger percentage of them are French immersion. Whether it’s early immersion or late immersion, numbers show its more popular than ever.
In Greater Victoria, one in five students is enrolled in French immersion. It’s the district with the highest enrolment per capita in the province.
“Twenty per cent is a significant number,” said SD61 vice chair Tom Ferris.
Cendra Beaton with the Canadian Parents for French says it’s because it’s becoming more clear just how beneficial it can be.
“Given that we are a bilingual country, there’s a growing demand for employees that speak both languages. Your brain also develops beyond what it would be with one language so your problem-solving abilities become a lot easier,” said Beaton.
But with the increased demand comes the problem of supply. Where are all the teachers coming from?
“We actually have a national shortage of French immersion teachers so you’ve got Ontario competing for the Quebec teachers, B.C., Alberta, every province is competing to get those French Canadian teachers,” said Beaton.
In Greater Victoria though, Ferris says attracting suitable candidates this year hasn’t been a problem.
“There’s always a bit of transition in the first few weeks but we feel we are more than able to meet that,” said Ferris.
He says part of our edge in recruitment is because Victoria is a very desirable place to live.
“That’s why we are here so I think that’s important also we have the University right at our doorstep and many of the students that have graduated with education have done their practicum in the Victoria school district,” said Ferris.
The University of Victoria is one of three universities in B.C. that can graduate French teachers. Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia on the mainland also have french teacher programs.
“Immediately when they are done university and college they have a job and its kind of guaranteed because it is something in demand,” said Beaton.