Early French immersion study commissioned for Chilliwack school district

A study has been commissioned to look into the feasibility of implementing early French immersion in the Chilliwack school district.

At Tuesday night's school board meeting all trustees, except trustee Barry Neufeld, were in favour of the study.

Neufeld said there was no proof of early French immersion benefitting students, and that it actually segregated students.

"I am probably committing political suicide here, but I have long opposed French immersion for the simple fact it complicates social ties with children who are forced into social groupings that limit their number of friends," said Neufeld.

Trustee Silvia Dyck, however, listed off several benefits of early French immersion, including

added brain space that is retained into adult life.

Trustee Heather Maahs also noted that early French immersion is something several parents have expressed a desire for.

"Parents are the clients of the public school system and they are well within their right to ask for something and for us to oblige," she said.

Trustee Walt Krahn wanted to ensure the school district would give the study wide exposure, making it known through social media, newspapers, radio and others in the community to ensure an "authentic" count.

For more than four months a group of Chilliwack parents have been advocating for early French immersion.

An informal study that was conducted by the Parents for Early French Immersion group, and that was presented in the public participation portion of Tuesday's board meeting, had 71 parents in support with 105 kids ranging in age from five to not yet born.

When the motion to start a feasibility study was passed, parent Travis Forstbaeur was ecstatic.

"The wheels are in motion now," he said. "This is what we wanted all along."

The study will be completed no later than November 2012.

Related story: Parents set to lobby for early French immersion
Related story: Support for early French immersion growing

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