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N.B. mostly accepts report calling for changes to 2nd-language learning

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick must revamp approach to ensure more people become bilingual says report'
New Brunswick must revamp approach to ensure more people become bilingual says report
A new report recommends sweeping reforms to second language education in New Brunswick schools. It comes from the same team that published a review of the province’s Official Languages Act in December. Suzanne Lapointe reports – Feb 2, 2022

The New Brunswick government says it will accept 18 out of 24 recommendations in a report calling for improvements to second-language learning in the province.

The recommendations were in a report conducted during a review of the Official Languages Act.

The report warned that in order to prevent the province from being officially bilingual “in name only,” more New Brunswickers needed opportunities to learn English or French as a second language.

To do so, it recommended improving second-language learning at child-care centres and in early learning, as well as the public school system.

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Changes made to the way second languages are learned could have a big impact on French immersion in the public school system — something families, students and teachers have called for.

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The province’s education minister says this will allow more students to learn French, but also let people be part of the changes.

“We don’t tend to have those conversations around geography or history classes or many other areas,” Dominic Cardy told reporters on Wednesday.

“But because the issues around language instruction in New Brunswick have always been very political, I think the only way to really defuse that is just to be totally transparent about all we’re doing here.”

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In a news release, the province said “timelines will vary” but the education department will implement their recommendations.

For example, the province will hold a round of public consultation sessions in the upcoming months in the Anglophone sector to address concerns that French language learning programs have not been meeting the needs of students.

The process will include working with educators to develop solutions that take into account regional resources, expanding local French second-language learning projects and adopting a framework that provides more individualized learning options for all anglophone students.

Enrolment in French immersion will continue, but families are being told to expect modifications.

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