UCDSB Adding French Immersion Over Popularity

French Immersion is seeing a surge in popularity across the country - and the Upper Canada District School Board says they're no different.

Superintendent of Education Valerie Allen says Brockville's Westminster, where immersion kids currently filter into, is already at full capacity after interest has steadily increased over the past few years.

She says they'll be adding kindergarten programs at Commonwealth Public School and Vanier Public School starting next year to keep up, and as an option for first graders and up in future years.

"We've had to add portables in the last few years," says Allen of Westminster Public School. "So by changing our approach to that, it will also even out access to the program in the various schools and keep the school registration numbers a little more stable."

Allen says without exact numbers, so far, they've been able to accomidate all students who are looking to join the immersion program, but adding programs will help keep up with the demand.

School boards - even in Western Canada - say they have to entice more French teachers to join their ranks, because more parents are opting to put their kids into the program.

Allen says Eastern Ontario is lucky to have access to full-time French teachers but concedes they can still struggle.

"We're lucky to live where we are in Eastern Ontario, where there are a lot of Francophones," she says. "We're pretty successful in finding French teachers, but sometimes when we're looking for day-to-day replacements we find that a bit of a challenge."

Allen understands the appeal.

"You never know what the future for these young people hold. So it's always good for them to have exposure to that," she says. "Research has shown the development of language helps when you're learning more than one language at once."

Allen says interested parents can sign their children up to French immersion any time.

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