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English Montreal School Board beats teacher shortage by recruiting staff from France

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English Montreal School Board recruits teachers from France amid labour shortage
WATCH: With Quebec in the throes of a teacher shortage, the English Montreal School Board is looking outside the box and outside the continent for reinforcements. Unable to find enough staff here, the board has recently begun recruiting French teachers in France. As Global's Dan Spector reports, three have recently started working in the city's west end schools. – Jan 17, 2023

With Quebec in the throes of a teacher shortage, the English Montreal School Board is looking outside the box – outside the continent in fact – for reinforcements.

Unable to find enough staff here, the board has begun recruiting French teachers in France.

A few have already started working in west-end schools, including 24-year-old Julie Caplier.

Caplier moved to Montreal from her home in Arras, France barely three months ago to teach at Merton Elementary in Côte Saint-Luc.

She’s already making quite an impression on her Grade 5 students.

“She’s a lot of fun, she has great ideas for projects,” said Merton fifth-grader Riley Germano.

READ MORE: Quebec clashes with unions as contract negotiations begin

Caplier is one of the three teachers the English Montreal School Board recently secured during a recruiting mission in France. Before she arrived at the school in November, her class was being taught by a substitute.

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“This would have been the first year that we really would have not had a teacher for that Grade 5 class,” said Merton principal Rosanna Kaplan. “We were very happy that she was found.”

Caplier says she never saw herself leaving her home country, but when an opportunity to teach abroad emerged, she jumped on it.

“It was a big change,” she told Global News. “I changed countries, left my family, my friends. I came all alone.”

While Caplier is teaching in one of Montreal’s most anglophone areas, she barely speaks any English. That seems to make the students try harder, the principal suggested.

“It gives them extra motivation, obviously, to try and use their language skills to the limit,” said Kaplan.

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Caplier is amazed that the kids are so easily able to switch between English and French in Grade 5. Where she comes from, bilingual students are few and far between.

“They speak French, they speak English, they switch from one language to the other and it’s very impressive,” she said of her Canadian students.

READ MORE: Quebec teachers want Indigenous history taught differently in schools

As part of the board’s “Mois du Français,” she has her class doing a project about her home country.

“She’s not only bringing the French, she’s also bringing the French culture to the classroom, which is interesting,” said Marie-Claude Bergeron, a French consultant with the English Montreal School Board.

Caplier’s class and those of the two other EMSB teachers recently recruited from France had a joint Zoom meeting with the Consul General of France to Quebec, Frédéric Sanchez. Students had an opportunity to ask Sanchez about France and his job.

Caplier hopes to remain in Canada for several years, and the EMSB hopes to continue fighting the teacher shortage by ramping up its recruiting efforts in France.

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