Should French Fluency Be a Requirement for BC Teachers?

In the winter 2009 issue of the BC College of Teachers' (BCCT) TC Magazine, teachers are asked, "should fluency in French be required of elementary and middle school teachers?"

Currently the BCCT's requirements for certification do not require elementary and middle school teachers to take methodology courses in teaching French in order to teach French, yet it requires teachers to complete methodology courses in all other teachable subjects.

This question is being asked because of a growing concern about the state of French instruction from parents organizations and former French teachers.

Wendy Carr, who taught core French for 31 years, and now the B.Ed. (French) program coordinator for the University of British Columbia (UBC), has witnessed the decline of the quality of instruction first-hand.

In a 2007 survey of 800 core French teachers, only 20% reported being at "ease in conversing or reading" in French.  Furthermore, in report by the Canadian Parents for French (CPFF), "the quality of instruction in terms of methodology and competence" is a reason why students do not take French in their school career.

If fluency does become a requirement, not only will this have implications in the training of teachers at universities, but also in the quality of students learning in the classroom.

In the media, this issue has been highlighted by Janet Steffenhagen, Education Reporter at the Vancouver Sun in an article titled "The sad state of core French programs in B.C. schools."

Currently, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Victoria offers French fluency and methodology courses for teachers wishing to specialize in French teaching, and those wishing to upgrade their skills.

In Ontario, teaching French is a restricted subject, and only those with additional qualifications in teaching French can teach the subject in a classroom.

If you would like to offer your opinion on this issue, take BCCT's online survey on French fluency.

If you are interested in Teaching in French or you are interested in connecting with a program to upgrade your French fluency, contact Make a Future.