Gauging the hunger for French Immersion

By David F. Rooney

School District 19 is attempting to gauge the appetite for French Immersion in Revelstoke.

This has, for years, been a an issue for parent who want their children to have a real linguistic advantage when they are older. However, every attempt to promote a French Immersion program failed because enrollment was deemed too low by School District 19 trustees.

Now, however, the establishment of the unilingual Ecole des Glaciers in unused space at Arrow Heights Elementary School has prompted the district to look once again at French Immersion as a viable program. Ecole des Glaciers is not governed by SD 19 but is operated by the Conseil Scolaire Francophone — the province-wide French-language-only school board that provides instruction to Francophones. It does not offer French Immersion.

Of course, the viability of a possible French Immersion program here still depends on numbers.

That’s why SD 19 Superintendent Anne Cooper sent a short survey to every Post Office box in town.

A lot of those surveys ended up in the trash bins at the Post Office, perhaps even discarded by parents who might — if they had read — actually be interested in it.

If you haven’t seen the survey or accidentally chucked it you can download the survey by clicking the front page button that asks: “Interesting in French Immersion?”  You can also click here to down load it.

The survey explains that French Immersion is an educational program in which children study in French even though that is not their first language. “Research shows that this is the most effective way for a child to become bilingual,” the survey says. “It is offered through the public school system but only when parents express enough interest. In BC, Early Immersion starts in Kindergarten or Grade 1. In French Immersion all activities and learning during elementary grades are in French, except for English arts. Students who complete the program graduate with two secondary school diplomas.:

What it doesn’t explain is that a Late Immersion program is a viable — and perhaps even more desireable — option because older children who take it (unlike the kids who are enrolled in Early Immersion programs) have generally already achieved a high level of competency in English.