British Columbia not getting enough French teachers from Quebec, looks toward Europe to ease shortage

Saturday, October 31, 2009

This story just came out in the Vancouver Sun today. British Columbia has a shortage of French immersion teachers and finding enough teachers from Quebec is turning out to be a harder and harder prospect, so they are looking to Europe.

Given the current approach it doesn't look like it's going to be all that successful, as the schools are looking to hire those that are already teachers in places like France, where job security as a public employee is ironclad and then there is also the hassle of getting a visa. For a qualified teacher in France that is looking to work abroad it would be much easier to simply stay in the EU and teach in a place like the UK, Ireland, Spain etc. instead of going all the way to Canada.

Due to this, a different approach might be needed. Perhaps hiring people with different qualifications (well-educated and of a certain minimum age but not necessarily public employees) or from a different country could work. Hiring fluent French speakers from Romania could also be a possibility since Romania has a particularly high ratio of fluent French speakers but a much lower GDP per capita.

Ideally the best way to create an immersive environment is to have more than one teacher in the classroom at a time, because watching two fluent speakers interact with each other is a completely different experience from simply being taught a language. I still remember seeing French being actually used between two teachers back in grade 3, which is when I realize that this was actually a language that was going to be taught (French class in Alberta starts from grade 4) instead of just another subject. Subsequent boring lessons from a less than fluent French teacher then helped to wipe out this strong impression, however, making it feel like just a subject again.


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