MONTREAL, JANUARY 16, 2013 – On the eve of the annual Kindergarten Registration Week, English Montreal School Board Chairman Angela Mancini held press conference on January 16, at which time she introduced a new campaign aimed at promoting the excellence of French education in the system.
Today, a brand new French web page, NousSommesBilingues.ca, officially went online. It contains important information and video clips from senior staff, students, parents and alumni. Ms. Mancini thanked members of the EMSB Marketing Committee for coming up with this concept.
Kindergarten Registration Week for the 2013-2014 academic year will take place from Monday, February 4 to Friday, February 8. If one child from a family is already enrolled in a particular school, a sibling registration period will take place a week earlier. Parents are asked to register at the EMSB elementary school nearest their residence offering the French program of their choice.
“We want French speaking parents to have a web resource they can go to immediately when deciding upon the choice of school for their child,” Ms. Mancini commented. “We already have a bilingual website, but this portal is designed specifically to get right to the questions parents want answered. It is a simple to navigate format and the presence of different videos makes it even easier to follow.”
Ms. Mancini indicated that the web portal will be expanded on a regular basis. She said that it illustrates the wide array of French speaking talent the EMSB has among staff, students, parents and elected officials.
Ms. Mancini herself is a graduate of the EMSB’s Vincent Massey Collegiate. She writes and speaks in French each day in her position in the Quebec health care system.
Among those providing comments on the video are graduates Michael Applebaum (mayor of Montreal), Massimo Pacetti (Member of Parliament for St. Léonard-St. Michel); school principals Nathalie Lacroix-Maillette, Myrianne Lusignan and Jacques Monfette; the Assistant Director of Student Services Julie René de Cotret; nutritionist Sylvie Beaudry; parents Vicky Rivard and Julie Barlow and Ms. Mancini.
The portal is broken down into three sections:
- Notre réseau scolaire will feature videos from teachers, principals and students describing the EMSB`s excellent network of elementary and secondary schools and BASE daycares.
- Notre communauté will share information and videos from the dedicated support and administrative staff, explaining board-wide support programs such as nutrition as well as pedagogical and psychological support programs. Parents, volunteers and alumni who have achieved success through bilingualism will also be heard.
- Nos services professionnels offers detailed information about the EMSB`s French language programs, success rates, eligibility and other services available to the public.
“We are very proud of the quality of French instruction our students receive,” said Ms. Mancini.
According to EMSB records, there are 1,637 students out of 20,412 in the youth sector with the French mother tongue.
Under the Charter of the French Language, a certificate of eligibility is generally granted to children who did the majority of their elementary or secondary studies in English in Canada; whose mother or father did the majority of his/her elementary studies in English in Canada or whose brother or sister did the majority of his/her elementary or secondary studies in English in Canada. “There are about 14,000 students across the province who have at least one parent who had their education in French and another who had the majority of theirs in English’” said Ms. Mancini. “That adds up to a lot of students who can choose the English system. There are also parents raising their children in an English home who have chosen the French system. They do so because of a belief that their children will graduate speaking a superior French. That is not necessarily correct. By attending an EMSB French immersion program we guarantee your child will graduate fully bilingual.”
The Primary Level
At the primary level, the EMSB offers three models of French: core, bilingual and full immersion. After spending seven years, including kindergarten, in a school offering a core program, a student will have received 32 percent of French-language instruction. According to the same calculations, students who attended schools with bilingual and immersion models will have received a total of 47 and 68 percent of French language instruction respectively.
Several French programs are available at the secondary level and the amount of time complements the programs at the elementary level. Secondary I, II and III have extended French programs which vary from 38 to 72 percent.
In February 2005, the EMSB reviewed plans to harmonize its French Second Language (FSL) instruction at the high school level. The fundamental principle underlying this process was to qualify students as proficient in French, as well as English. The goal was to allow students to achieve success in français langue d’enseignement at the Secondary IV and/or V levels. This level of achievement identifies students as bilingual and biliterate.
“Although our secondary schools do not offer similar programs, an extensive analysis of the different models of French instruction at the secondary level revealed that schools provided increased time for French instruction, above the requirements of the Basic School Regulation,” commented EMSB Director of Pedagogical Services Sandra Furfaro. “As part of our commitment to bilingualism, the grid was modified in Secondary IV and V to six units of French as a Second Language. This study also revealed that students following the different models at the elementary level moved to français langue d’enseignement instruction at the secondary level. It also recognized that partial immersion instructional models provide language learning in meaningful contexts through various subjects other than language arts.
As Ms. Mancini points out, “It is interesting to note that immersion students have been found to perform as well as native French students on tests of reading and oral comprehension. Whether students are enrolled in this type of program or another one, their linguistic skills are generally not a serious obstacle to their effective use of French for academic or interpersonal purposes.”
In Canada, French-English bilingualism carries a number of cognitive, cultural and socioeconomic benefits. Bilingual individuals have enhanced problem-solving skills because of their ability to attend to relevant information and disregard misleading information. French-English bilingualism enhances Canadians' ability to participate fully in Canadian society. Canadians who speak both official languages also have, on average, better job opportunities.
The press conference took place at Gardenview Elementary School in St. Laurent, one of the premier French immersion schools in the country. Gardenview is filled to capacity on an annual basis and few kindergarten spots remain moments after the official registration period begins. Last year Gardenview became the first French immersion school in the province to take part in the prestigious Concours national de lecture. The competition aims to take a proactive approach by using a game called "Recreation," similar to Snakes and Ladders, where reading and correctly spelling of a word makes progress on the game board to move forward. Pierre Renaud, who attended the press conference, originally designed this game to help his own son learn how to read, drawing it in pen on a large cardboard box. He eventually decided to share it with schools across the province, with the objective of reducing the dropout rate. This year three other EMSB elementary schools - Cedarcrest in St. Laurent, Edward Murphy in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and East Hill in RDP - have also signed on.
For more information about the EMSB, please call (514) 483-7200 or log on to the Board’s website at www.emsb.qc.ca.