While visiting Brandon recently, I came across the article “Interest In French Immersion Programs Remains High” published in the Brandon Sun on Dec. 13.
In this article, it is said that École Harrison is a single-track French immersion program as opposed to dual-track French immersion programs which incorporate French and English programs.
If anglophone parents wish their kids to become bilingual, the single-track French immersion is the way to go because, not only do the teachers address them in French, the staff do so as well.
The very first French immersion school opened in Saint-Lambert, near Montreal, in 1965. Yet, today, nearly 50 years later, there are still a lot of people opposed to French immersion schools.
Some fear that the child’s English education will suffer. Not so. French immersions schools have to follow the same curriculum as English schools and they do have to take English courses.
Others say that a child who learns two languages at the same time will get confused and will not even learn his or her mother tongue well. Not so.
Others say that French immersion schools are too expensive to operate. I have never seen the financial sheets from the Ministry of Education, but I cannot see why French immersion schools should be much more expensive than English schools because, regardless of the type of school the child is enrolled in, school tax dollars have to allocated for that child anyway.
Finally some are opposed to French immersion schools simply because they view Canada as an English country. They totally reject the significance of the more than 400-year-old French roots among French-Canadians and Acadians as well as the more than 200-year-old French roots in Manitoba.
Having said this, although well-intended, French immersion schools do not benefit francophones and do little to address their concerns.
The statistics speak for themselves. Since the opening of that first French immersion school in 1965, the rate of language loss (assimilation) among francophones has nearly doubled! The trouble is that French immersion schools put the emphasis on the language but not on the people who identify to that language.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 3, 2013