French immersion numbers rise in local schools

By Teena Monteleone
August 25, 2018 - 12:00pm Updated: August 26, 2018 - 10:45am

Over the last 10 years, enrolment in French immersion has skyrocketed within both the Prince Albert public and separate school divisions.

According to Tom Michaud, superintendent of schools for Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division (SRPSD), their numbers have been growing at a rapid rate.

“In 2007, 230 students were enrolled in French immersion. Last year, we were at 635. So, we’ve shot up more than a 100 per cent in the last 10 years,” Michaud said.

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division (PACSD) is on a similar trajectory. In 2008, 20 per cent of the student population was enrolled in French immersion. In 2017, that number jumped to 30 per cent.

“I think it has to do with a general appreciation in the public as to the advantages of a second language education in Canada and the opportunity it offers students,” Michaud said. “Knowing multiple languages is definitely a benefit for our students because they have more opportunities to connect with people across the globe.”

In March, the federal government unveiled its Action Plan for Official Languages which included funding to address the recruitment and retention of teachers who teach French and English as a second language. An apparent shortage of French immersion teachers in the country won’t affect the school divisions in Prince Albert. Both will start the school year with a full complement of staff.

“We have not had to recruit internationally yet. We’ve been fortunate to work with the University of Saskatchewan and Regina to support our French immersion teacher development…but we also actively recruit across the country and sometimes have to rely on our retired staff,” said Lorel Trumier, PACSD director of education.

 There are currently five elementary schools and two high schools within the local divisions that offer French immersion programming.

 

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