The State of French-Second-Language Education in Prince Edward Island research reports examine how well French-second-language (FSL) programs are faring in PEI. The reports address a variety of long-standing and emerging issues in FSL education, like equitable access to FSL programs developing more effective FSL programs, student proficiency, additional learning opportunities and more.
In this second edition of the PEI State of FSL report, we look at diverse components of French-second-language programs that are offered in the province. As in the first edition, we report on the availability, distribution, enrollment and attrition trends as well as advances in Core French and immersion. A significant section of this second edition describes the data collected from a sample of 100 PEI administrators and FSL teachers. The survey data identified demographics about Island teachers, strengths and needs in FSL education, as well as recruitment, hiring and retention of FSL teachers and substitute teachers in PEI. We followed up on the recommendations that were made in 2017 to report positive developments and persistent concerns. CPF PEI makes new recommendations based on the local data and on recent reports from national ACPI FSL research findings and Ontario FSL research published in 2018.
The participants in our survey sample highlighted certain PEI FSL strengths. The survey participants reported effective practices at the school or branch level that support FSL pedagogy, including In-service professional development opportunities in French; literacy coaching; time to collaborate with other FI teachers; resource sharing among teachers; and attendance at French second-language-specific conferences. Additionally, Core French teachers identified the new Core program, new teaching resources, and dedicated classrooms as effective support.
The participants’ voices also highlighted FSL teaching challenges such as large class sizes, lack of appropriate materials for immersion, and too few extra-curricular or out of class activities in French for students. The biggest need teachers voiced was for resource programs for immersion students across the province and across grade levels. Our data indicated there is a loss of several dozen immersion students at almost every grade transition from Kindergarten to high school over the past 5 years and a huge decline in students in Core French between Grade 9 and Grade 10. We recommend attention to providing equitable resource services in French immersion province-wide to meet student learning needs. We also recommend ensuring students have a minimum of regular and meaningful linguistic and cultural experiences in the French community to motivate and engage FSL students and remedy some of the challenges.
There is a definite concern about the availability of teachers with linguistic and pedagogical competencies to teach in FSL classrooms. A great need for FSL substitute teachers in PEI was reported by 75% of participants. Further, there is no data available on the language proficiency levels of PEI teachers and a DEELC human resources concern that was noted in the first CPF PEI FSL report still remains about the number of FSL teachers who are below the required language level to be a language model in the classroom. A need was also identified to provide the administration with training specific to hiring, evaluating, and supporting FSL teachers and supporting FSL programs.
We want to thank René Hurtubise at the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture and his staff for helping with gathering statistics and other information on FSL education in PEI.
In the 1st Report study, we looked at diverse components of French-second-language programs that are offered in Prince Edward Island. In particular, we reported on the availability, distribution, enrollment and attrition trends in Core French and immersion, along with student language proficiency testing and graduation requirements. We also discussed staffing for FSL programs.
Locating policies and data about FSL programs in PEI was challenging and we suggest improved provincial data collection on enrollment, attrition, and program transition, along with public availability of these statistics and relevant FSL policies.
Based on the findings in this report, CPF PEI recommendations include the implementation of a long-term plan for the support and growth of FSL education opportunities on PEI. One suggestion would be to develop an annual campaign on PEI to promote the advantages of bilingualism and learning a second language. Further to this, we recommend to extend Core French programming until Grade 12 and continuing to offer the DELF language competency testing at graduation for Core French students.
Statistics show that only half of the province has access to early French immersion and less than half have access to a second entry point for late immersion. Therefore we recommend that early and late French immersion opportunities be provided in every family of schools. Given that the immersion and core French recommendations will require additional teachers with French language competency and FSL teaching pedagogy, short-term and long-term recruitment and retention of FSL teachers will be critical. Additionally, support should be offered for teachers who do not reach the required language levels to enhance their French competency, including the use of technology to assist in language learning and improvement.
More recommendations are in the full Report. We have also noted areas that will need further study such as teacher availability, changes to policy and gathering current statistics.
We want to thank René Hurtubise at the Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture and his staff for helping to understand the constraints within which we work as well as help with gathering statistics and other information on FSL education in PEI.
Edition Report summary in French Please note the full edition 1 Report is available in English only.
Dr. Mary MacPhee – Writer and researcher
Phyllipe Provencher – Researcher (Edition 1 only)
Gail Lecky – CPF PEI staff advisory and researcher