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French immersion hits new heights in Sooke

École Poirier elementary teacher Amanda Chalmers with Grade 5 student Ruthe Beattie. French immersion is seeing increased numbers in Sooke School District.  - Kevin Laird/Sooke News Mirror
École Poirier elementary teacher Amanda Chalmers with Grade 5 student Ruthe Beattie. French immersion is seeing increased numbers in Sooke School District.
— image credit: Kevin Laird/Sooke News Mirror

Parlez-vous Francais?

No? Well, given a recent boom in French immersion in Sooke and the lower Island, chances are, your child will likely be able to become bilingual by the time they become an adult.

This is all thanks to a steady but healthy growth of students in the Sooke School District, as well as a thorough presence of French immersion in Sooke alone, such as Ecole Poirier, which has been a spearhead of the program for the last 25 years.

“It’s also that we’re very inclusive with French immersion,” said district principal Vivian Collyer.

“People used to think that French immersion was just for those very skilled students, but we believe that anybody who is interested in learning a second language should be included.”

Inclusivity has been a major play in the bloom, more so than anyone can imagine. It has led to numerous program launches at numerous schools, including John Stubbs Memorial School, which, for the first time this year, has become completely French immersion. This is one of the few schools in the province that provides such a combination from kindergarden to Grade 8.

Another factor for the program’s significant growth in Sooke during recent years has been the presence of the a French Immersion Advisory Committee and a Canadian Parents for French chapter in Sooke. The CPF particularly highlights the importance of parents being involved in the development of their child’s bilingual education.

“If we as parents don’t do it, then who will?” asked Cendra Beaton, president of CPF Sooke District chapter.

“We are blessed to have a school district that is very supportive and understanding of the benefits of a bilingual education program like French immersion.”

After all, much of the program’s success leans on the continued collaborations between the CPF, the French Advisory and Sooke district board. Still, new challenges appear with more students, though Beaton is optimistic about working with new members and allow the program to grow even stronger.

“With the great enrollment numbers, comes a greater need for long term planning to be prepared and ready for what is to develop,” she said.

“We look forward to working with the district to plan for the future together and having more parents join our chapter to have a stronger voice on these topics.”

In previous years, the CPF has helped bring in additional cultural activities and events into the French Immersion program, such as Charlotte Diamond and Anne Glover, the annual District Concours d’Art Oratoire, a national French- speaking contest, as well as gathering and purchasing classroom text books.

Beaton hopes more parents will reach out and become active in the local CPF chapter, which is why the organization has some interesting plans in the works this month. From Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, all new and renewing CPF Sooke memberships will be entered in a draw to win prizes donated by businesses like Thrifty Foods, Vegetables Online, and Marlin Travel. Additional details and prizes will be posted on the CPF event on Facebook. These memberships are the backbone to funding the majority of the CPF support for French programming in the Sooke School District.

 

 

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