Hedging bets on early French immersion

Chilliwack parents still hopeful the school district will introduce early French immersion

Chilliwack parent Jessica Becker hasn’t yet lost hope in the school district adopting an early French immersion program by the time her daughter enters the school system, but she is looking at other school districts – just in case.

Last week, Becker, one of the original advocates for EFI in Chilliwack,  posted a comment on the Parents for Early French Immersion in Chilliwack Facebook page asking if other parents would be interested in carpooling to Abbotsford if Chilliwack doesn’t have EFI in the next couple of years.

One person sent her a message and another liked the post.

“I’m just trying to come up with a Plan B,” Becker told The Progress. “I want to be prepared.”

Several parents have been advocating for an early French immersion program in the Chilliwack school district for more than a year now. They attended board meetings, started a Facebook group page, and became affiliated with the national organization, Canadian Parents for French.

As a result, Chilliwack trustees commissioned a study, last January, that would look into the feasibility of such a program in the district.

The study is to be completed no later than November.

However, with no updates from district staff since January, some parents are getting antsy.

“I would prefer my daughter go to school in Chilliwack, she’s going to preschool right now, and has already formed friendships… but if she doesn’t start early French immersion by Grade 1, she won’t be able to get into it anywhere.”

Becker’s daughter, who is four years old, starts kindergarten in 2013. Becker would not be opposed to carpooling to Abbotsford if need be.

“The benefit of being able to learn a second language far outweighs the inconvenience” of the drive, said Becker.

“The big part for me is being able to have the choice, being on an even keel with the rest of Canadian kids. When much smaller school districts like Williams Lake and Fort St. John have early French immersion, why can’t we?”

Becker hopes to get an update at the next public school board meeting on Sept. 11.



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