FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will engage with students and educators on ways to improve second language training.

“New Brunswick is Canada’s only bilingual province and all New Brunswickers should be able to share their stories and experiences with one another,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “Our low levels of bilingualism are unacceptable. We need to look at opportunities to use personalized or experiential learning to address the needs of second language learners and make second language programs more accessible.”

As outlined in Succeeding at Home: A green paper on education in New Brunswick, the government has committed to ensuring that all students achieve, at a minimum, conversational proficiency in both official languages by the time they graduate from high school.

Department staff will visit schools and talk with students and educators currently participating in second language programming. Discussions will explore the strengths and weaknesses of the current curricula and programming to see where there is room for improvement and what successes can be leveraged to create new, widely available learning opportunities.

Based on discussions and the feedback received, the department will invite about a dozen of schools to participate in a pilot project to explore second language learning opportunities and different models of delivery. These projects will begin as early as the 2020-21 school year.

In conjunction with ideas presented in the green paper, the department is exploring structures that would enable students to work together as they learn the two official languages and looking at how technology can be used to reinforce lessons or connect students across the province. The department has also committed to work with early childhood educators to explore play-based approaches to language acquisition.

“Educators working in classrooms directly with students every day are in the best position to explain their needs, successes and challenges,” said Cardy. “To build a world-class education system, we need to learn what longstanding barriers to learning exist and explore different models to overcome these barriers.”

Building a world-class education system with progress regularly measured and reported on publicly, is one of the government’s top priorities. More details on the priorities is available online.