Teacher shortage leads Abbotsford French immersion school to use instructor who can’t speak the language

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French immersion teacher shortage
WATCH: B.C.'s current French immersion teacher shortage is very evident in Abbotsford where one Grade 4 class should be learning in French, but their teacher is not fluent in the language. Grace Ke reports – Oct 30, 2018

Students in a Grade 4 class at École Sandy Hill Elementary in Abbotsford have been without a French immersion teacher for the past three weeks.

This came after she got another job closer to home. With a shortage of French-speaking teachers, parents are worried about when they’ll be able to get a replacement.

They’ve been told of at least one applicant but that person is being recruited by several districts in the area.

WATCH: B.C. schools scramble to fill French immersion teaching spots

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B.C. schools scramble to fill French immersion teaching spots

Jolene Duncan says her daughter, who is a Grade 4 student, came home one day telling her that they were not to speak French in class because they have an English-speaking substitute teacher.

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Duncan that has caused anxiety with her daughter.

“As a nine-year-old not wanting to go to school, she’s extremely bright and she loves school. That breaks my heart.”

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The shortage has been a problem for the last decade.

From August: French immersion course in danger of cancellation

The NDP government says it has been working aggressively to try to increase the number of French-speaking teachers in the province. Education Minister Rob Fleming says “the Ministry of Education since we have formed the new government has taken the unusual step of funding new seats at B.C. universities to specifically train French immersion courses and we’ve also continued to aggressively recruit out of province, even internationally.”

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That won’t help parents at École Sandy Hill who fear their children will fall behind in their french curriculum. They want to know what steps will be taken to ensure that doesn’t happen while they wait for a new teacher.

In a statement the Abbotsford School District said:

“Like all districts across British Columbia, the Abbotsford School District is impacted by the national shortage of French immersion teachers.

“We have implemented a number of strategies in our district in an effort to attract French immersion teachers to Abbotsford. Some of these strategies include: mentorship, priority assignments for filling classroom positions, a full-time recruitment position and financial incentives to support teacher relocation

“We will continue to do all we can to fulfill our commitment to providing a rich French Immersion program in Abbotsford.”

The district went on to say that “parents will be addressing the school board in the coming weeks, hoping to get some answers.”

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