Tuesday, April 1, 2008

E-mail Response from Premier Graham

Note: This e-mail was received by several people who had written to the premier:

Thank you for your email concerning French Second Language Programs.

The decision to change the way French Second Language (FSL) programs are being delivered in this province was a difficult one. It was premised on the need to make two things happen. First, we want to ensure all students have the opportunity to gain proficiency in French. Second, we want to ensure New Brunswick students’ achievement in literacy, mathematics and science is on par with other Canadian students. Our students consistently score lower than those of all other provinces on PISA, (Programme for International Student Assessment). Given this, and the fact that only 34% of our anglophone students reach the provincial target for French proficiency, there was no option but to undertake a major reform. To ignore this situation would be unconscionable.

After careful consideration, the Department of Education has decided to move to a more comprehensive approach whereby all students will receive seven years of instruction in a quality second language program.

This will be achieved through the Intensive French (IF) program provided in grade 5 whereby all students receive an initial, intensive exposure to French, followed by parents and students having the choice in grade 6 of either the Post Intensive program or Late French Immersion.

There are several advantages of initial exposure to French in grade 5. By that grade, students will have a firm foundation in English literacy skills and will also have acquired the building blocks of numeracy in their first language. First language mastery provides a solid foundation for learning subsequent languages. An additional benefit of freeing a thirty-minute period daily in grades 1 through 4 will be the chance to offer students art, music, increased literacy, physical education and enrichment opportunities. Finally, mastery of basic French through IF in grade 5 will help students and parents to make informed decisions concerning the French program option that will best meet their needs in grade 6.

The announced reform will result in more students achieving better results, not only in second language learning, but in literacy and mathematics and other subjects.

Further information regarding French Second Language Programs and a complete list of improvements may be found at http://www.gnb.ca/0000/eng-cu-e.asp.

Thank you for taking the time to express your views on this important subject.


Shawn Graham

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