Aug. 5, 2008
FREDERICTON (CNB) - A new entry point to French immersion in Grade 3, an introduction to French language and culture for all students in kindergarten and early grades, and more options for French instruction in high school highlight a package of curriculum changes announced today by Premier Shawn Graham and Education Minister Kelly Lamrock.
"Our government is committed to providing quality education to our children," Graham said. "Our plan, When Kids Come First, sets the stage for building the best education system in Canada, a key component to self-sufficiency. These improvements to French second-language (FSL) education will help us achieve our goals."
Lamrock said that the changes provide students in kindergarten and grades 1 and 2 with a common curriculum, and address the issue of streaming that has had a negative affect on classroom instruction. "Throughout our recent public consultations we were encouraged to take measures to eliminate streaming, particularly in these early grades to improve class composition. This will give kids three years of solid instruction in their first language, and bolster literacy rates."
The revised model of instruction was developed following an extensive consultation with New Brunswickers on how to improve FSL education in the province's anglophone schools.
The revised FSL program will consist of the following elements:
After concluding the universal program at the end of Grade 2, there will be a choice of the English Prime program or Grade 3 immersion, where numbers warrant.
For those children who take Grade 3 immersion, which replaces the existing Grade 1 early immersion program, the majority of instruction over the following years would be in French.
Those children who take English Prime will continue to be exposed to French modules in Grade 3, and take pre-intensive French in Grade 4 and intensive French in Grade 5.
After completing Grade 5, there will be a choice between the continued English Prime program with post-intensive French, or Grade 6 immersion, where numbers warrant, as in the March proposal.
The Grade 6 immersion will be improved over the current late immersion program because students will start immersion with a stronger foundation in French. For those children who take this program, the majority of instruction will be in French.
Those children who do not take immersion will take English Prime with post-intensive French. French will be taught for 200 minutes per week in two or three intensive blocks, and all other subjects will be taught in English.
The three programs will conclude at the end of Grade 10 when all students will take an oral proficiency test in French. Students who achieve an intermediate or higher oral proficiency will receive a certificate of proficiency and be able to choose from among available FSL courses in grades 11 and 12. Course offerings in French at these grade levels will be expanded, and a greater number will be offered online.
At the conclusion of Grade 12, students may choose to be retested for French proficiency. Program goals for the end of Grade 12 are as follows:
It is expected that with additional learning opportunities at school, extracurricular activities, personal motivation, and strong parental support, between 5-10 per cent of students in English Prime and the Grade 6 immersion program will reach the advanced level. Students testing higher in Grade 12 than they did in Grade 10 will receive a second, upgraded, certificate of proficiency.
In order to provide real-life French experiences and to promote interaction between students in the two immersion programs and the prime program, a new bilingual learning-environments policy will be developed throughout middle and high schools to create co-curricular and extracurricular activities in French. Principals will be required to implement this policy.
"We held a thorough consultation process with New Brunswickers, and we listened to and learned from them," Lamrock said. "This truly is a consultation-driven solution, and we are thankful to the many New Brunswickers who took part."
Building on the success of the consultation process, a ministerial advisory committee of education experts and key stakeholders will be appointed. This committee will work with the Department of Education to develop the new French modules for the universal kindergarten-through-Grade-2 program, the French modules for non-immersion students in Grade 3, the new Grade 3 immersion option, and the bilingual learning environments policy.
"We're very excited about this advisory committee," Lamrock said. "Our consultation process was incredibly productive, and we look forward to continuing that dialogue by drawing this committee from those who participated in the process."
As in the existing model, those who entered Grade 1 early immersion last year or earlier will be grandfathered, and may remain in the program they chose; those who did not choose immersion will enter Grade 5 intensive French, and will have the choice of post-intensive French or Grade 6 immersion, where numbers warrant.
"Today we have brought forward important improvements that strike a better balance between the need to address streaming and the imperative of providing more comprehensive FSL programming for Canada's only bilingual province," said Graham.
A complete review of the program will be conducted at the end of 2015-16, the graduating year for the first group of grade 5 students from the revised program.
Since launching its comprehensive education plan in June 2007, the Government of New Brunswick has launched a series of initiatives to improve the province's public education system. The plan has three key goals: to ensure that children arrive at school ready to learn; that they leave elementary school having mastered the fundamentals of literacy and math; and that they graduate from high school having found their personal strengths and having become prepared for the next phase of their lives.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Background information follows. MEDIA CONTACT: Lisa Harrity or Angelique Binet, 506-444-4714.
Timeline for roll-out of revised FSL program
September 2008: First group of students enters Universal Grade 1;
January 2009: Grade 1 students begin French modules;
September 2009: Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 students will all have access to French modules, and Grade 4 students will have access to pre-intensive French;
September 2010: First intake for new Grade 3 immersion program.
A complete background document is available online.