Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Montreal Gazette -- N.B. cutting French immersion program could spark language tensions

Marianne White, Canwest News ServicePublished: 7 hours ago

The New Brunswick government's decision to axe the early French immersion program could hurt the reputation of Canada's only officially bilingual province and revive language tensions, many experts believe.

Premier Shawn Graham has decided to drop the program that currently begins in Grade 1 as well as mandatory French classes for anglophone children in favour of a more intensive French program for all students starting in Grade 5.

The decision has proven to be unpopular with many New Brunswick parents - francophones and anglophones alike - and also with teachers and university professors across the country.


But many second language experts stress that early immersion is inarguably the most effective way to teach children a second language and the solution that delivers the best results. "That is a real loss for New Brunswick children," added Helene Deacon, a language and literacy professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax. "They are losing out on this really strong program that has positive outcome early and they are trading it for a later program that is going to be universal," she said.

Experts also believe the New Brunswick government will keep facing serious and increasing opposition over its decision. "This issue is not going to go away quickly," said Geoff Martin. "The government is hoping it will blow over, but I think we have only seen the beginning of this debate."

For the complete article click this link.

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