French Immersion Education | Young Anglos dive

Keep education the best secret? More than 8 out of 10 English-speaking students on Montreal Island are immersed in French at elementary level, and the youngest spends up to 85% of their school days in their second language. These are the students who are entitled to study in Quebec in English.

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Louis Leduk

Louis Leduk
The press

“People are often surprised to learn that all our schools are immersive schools! Matthew Canavan, director of educational services at the Leicester-B-Pearson School Board in Montreal, said.

In Montreal, the other English-language school board in Montreal, 75% of elementary students are either immersed or in a bilingual elementary program, said Michael Cohen, communications manager.

Linguistic debates follow one another, and in French matters law 96 is the most recent trigger. But the parents’ priority remains: both French-speaking parents1 English speakers want their children to be bilingual.

“It was important to me that my son learned French very early,” explains Don Eisman, whose son Harrison attends the Merton School in Cote-Saint-Luke, Montreal.


Photo by David Boyle, The Press

Marton Elementary School, Cote-Saint-Luke, Montreal

On the Riverside School Board, in the southern crown of Montreal, 14 elementary schools offer immersion programs for English-speaking students.

The need to speak French in order to live in Quebec is the first reason cited by parents in interviews. But on this account, why don’t they send their child directly to a nearby French-speaking school?

In fact, if English schools have implemented so many immersion programs, it is precisely to stop the bleeding. “In 1977, there were 250,000 students on the English school board,” said Russell Kopman, executive director of the English School Board Association. Today, there are only 100,000 left.

Bill 101 is responsible for the greatest loss of students, he notes. Added to this is the steady wave of Anglophone departures from Quebec, but also the fact that Anglophone parents are choosing to send their children to French-language schools, although “the number has stabilized for five years”.

As important as bilingualism is to her, Amanda Lamb, who herself attended an immersion ceremony at Notre-Dame-de-Grace in her youth, did not consider enrolling her child in a French-language school.

I wanted to keep the link [avec l’école anglophone]To make sure our family, my grandchildren have the right to go to school in English.

Amanda Lamb, who has completed an immersion program herself

And outside of language, an English-speaking school has its own characteristics, underlining Mr. Kopman. “Culturally, the involvement of Anglophone parents is a little stronger than that of Francophone parents. […]Also, how many French language schools have the Canadian flag in front of them? To my knowledge, there is no one there. Yes, it is symbolic, but still … ”

Tino Bordonaro, chairman of the English Language Education Commission, reflects the sentiments expressed by many of the parents interviewed. “We want our children to be bilingual, we recognize that Quebec is a French province, but our communities want to preserve their institutions. A

Anglophones were able to keep their school boards – unlike the Francophone system – precisely because they insisted on it. Anglophones wants to ensure the survival of their CEGP and universities.

In secondary school, the demand for immersion is low

In high school, the appetite for immersion ceremonies decreases. At Lester-B.-Pearson, up to 3e In secondary, they are only 60% of immersed students and 25% in 4e And 5e In secondary English-Montreal, 41% of high schools are submerged.

Matt Wilson, president of the Lester-B.-Pearson Teachers’ Union, noted that when 3 ministriese4e And 5e Secondary, parents and students feel more comfortable that they are made in their mother tongue.

Parents want their children to learn French, but not at the risk of their learning. Learning a subject in your second language is more difficult.

Tino Bordonaro, Chairman of the English Language Education Commission

In addition, at this age, young people have a voice. “When my child entered school, the parents decided to immerse him, but now he is no longer tempted. With adolescence, it will be very difficult to fight, ”Don Eisman explained with a smile.

This fairly common educational path for Anglophones in Montreal – in elementary school immersion or bilingual programs, but much less in secondary school – highlights the noise around Bill 96 and the obligation imposed on English-speaking CEGEP students to pass three courses. In French. Bernard Tremblay, president of the Federation des Siegeps, himself argued this spring that 35% of the 29,000 students enrolled in five English-speaking institutions could not speak French.

Russell Kopman It is not surprising that many young people continue to struggle despite their initial immersion. When he entered politics in 1994, he dropped out of high school 18 years ago. “After school, I worked mainly in English, and if you don’t jump into a French-speaking world, you’ll lose a lot of your French,” the former MP noted, acknowledging that he was a bit overwhelmed when he got there. .

Immersion seemed essential to her three children. “Anyone who wants to live in Quebec knows that French is the common language. A

What is the perfect age for immersion?

Under intense pressure to do so, the Quebec government introduced English as a second language course from Grade 1 in 2006.D Years for young francophones. Similarly, in Montreal’s English-language school boards, immersion begins very early and then subsides.

According to Philippa Bell, professor of second language education at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UKAM), it is wrong to believe that we must rush to teach a child a second language because their brains will be like a sponge especially when they are small.

In a school context, he said, “towards the end of elementary school and towards the beginning of secondary school” the student is cognitively prepared, especially for learning another language.

Early exposure has the advantage of coming at a time when the child is more open, emotionally, in another language and has no negative preconceptions.

More and more French public schools are adopting or studying the principles of early exposure to small doses in 1D Year with an English immersion blitz at the end of elementary school.

1. In a 2015 survey conducted by the Center for Evaluation Research and Expertise, 99.1% of parents found “very” or “somewhat” important as a second language for children to learn English.

What do we mean by immersion?

From one English school board to another, the definition is somewhat different, but in general, an immersive student will do a good portion of their subjects (for example, history, physical education or science) in their second language. The total time of his class, it would make him at least half of his week in French. Kindergarten and Year 1 studentsD Lester-B.-Pearson schools that follow the initial immersion program (most popular) spend no less than 85% of their time in French.

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