Government of New Brunswick
immersion_category

Our government is committed to improving our education system with the goal of graduating bilingual high school students in both sectors. According to the Auditor General, of the 1,624 students who entered into an early immersion program in 2005, only 10% achieved the goal of advanced or above by the end of grade 12 in 2017. Growing this number will require ongoing consultation with the public, and engagement of education experts as we map a pathway to success. Clearly, the many programs that have been attempted over the years have not generated results that allow all students to function comfortably in both official languages. We must be innovative in our thinking and ready to act on well-developed strategies that will give all of our high school graduates the language skills they need to be successful in their future.

This survey is only the first step. It is part of a bigger plan as we pursue our goal of building a world-class education system through all grade levels and across all curriculum areas. We know that learning additional languages will serve our students well in the future, and we must not settle for less than conversational competencies in both official languages.

The current French Immersion program is facing substantial challenges that have been compounded by the move to the grade one entry point.

These challenges include:

New Brunswick, like all provinces and territories in Canada, is facing an urgent situation with the recruitment of qualified French speaking teachers. In short, we do not have enough qualified teachers to staff the program. This national crisis is not expected to improve in the immediate future, something the federal official Languages Commissioner found in a recent study:

  • 41 per cent of Grade 1 and 2 teachers do not have the level of proficiency in French that is required to teach the program. This has created urgent staffing challenges where we have teachers instructing at lower levels of proficiency. This means there are more than 1,600 children in those two grade levels who are being taught in a French immersion setting by teachers who do not have the required level of French.
      
  • Of the number of qualified French immersion teachers in the province, 20 per cent are over the age of 50 and will soon be eligible for retirement.
      
  • There is a serious shortage of substitute teachers who can speak the required level of French. If a French immersion teacher is absent, there is a chance that he or she will not be replaced by a teacher who can speak French.

The move to a Grade 1 entry point was done before students who had entered at Grade 3 had been engaged in any large-scale assessments. We now have evidence of its success.

  • Results from the 2018 provincial assessment of French Oral Proficiency indicates students who entered French Immersion in Grade 3 scored approximately as well as those who previously entered in Grade 1. In fact, 92 per cent achieved ‘Intermediate’ or above (considered conversational level in New Brunswick), with 2.6 per cent achieving the two highest levels for the first time.
       
  • In 2017, the Grade 6 level French Oral Proficiency assessment was applied to Grade 3 entry students for the first time. 62 per cent had already achieved an intermediate level of French (considered conversational level in New Brunswick). This is remarkable because they had only received three years of French instruction, and they still have another six years to strengthen their skills before graduating from high school.

The Grade 3 entry program could be reintroduced, which would alleviate some the stress on the system created by the teacher shortage. It would also level the playing field with classroom composition in the important first years of schooling. Students currently in the Grade 1 entry program could be grandfathered through the system until their graduation from high school.

 

There is a serious imbalance in the make-up of classes between the French Immersion and English Prime classrooms. The current Grade 1 entry point has resulted in unintended streaming in the early formative years of education.

  • The auditor general’s report indicated that 93 per cent of anglophone sector students on personalized learning plans are in the English prime program. Data from the department shows that 97 per cent of kindergarten to Grade 2 students on these plans are in the English prime program; three per cent are in the French immersion program.
       
  • Current data from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development indicates that at Grades 1 and 2 in the Anglophone system, there are 266 students with personalized learning plans in the English Prime program, and only eight across the province in the French immersion program.

    
Share your thoughts

We want to hear from you on how we should deal with what has become a crisis situation in our education system. This survey is the first phase of our plan to improve second language learning for all students and to ensure we are working toward to goal of graduating bilingual high school students in both sectors.

Interested citizens are invited to complete and submit the following survey, along with any additional comments, by March 31, 2019.
   

  

You may also send us your written submissions by:

Email: Consultation.EECD-EDPE@gnb.ca and:

  • Include your name or the name of your organization
  • Use “Public Consultation on French Immersion“ in the subject line
  • Attach your submission as a PDF or Word document

Mail your submissions:

The Hon. Dominic Cardy
Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development
P.O. Box 6000 Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1