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French Immersion open house

Madame Finotti with her kindergarten French Immersion class at PES. - Brenda Gough Photo
Madame Finotti with her kindergarten French Immersion class at PES.
— image credit: Brenda Gough Photo

Supporters of French Immersion in School District 69 are touting the benefits of a bilingual education.

Parents of children who will be starting Kindergarten in September are invited to an information session on Feb. 8 explaining the advantages of French Immersion.

The local chapter of Canadian Parents for French is hoping to get the message out there that French Immersion programs are an asset to school districts in tough economic times.

Greer Cummings is the new Chair of the local chapter of Canadian Parents for French and is excited about her role.

She has two children in the French Immersion program at Parksville Elementary School and she wants to spread the word about the many benefits of learning a second language.

“CPF provides amazing resources for families and we want to raise the profile of CPF in this district.”

She said the erosion of school programs due to budget shortfalls is one of the many reasons why parents should consider French Immersion.

Cummings said French Immersion actually brings extra revenue to a school district. Beyond the per-student funding each child is allocated through the Ministry of Education, French Immersion students are granted extra funding through the federal government.

Cummings said she’s not surprised the number of students enrolled in French Immersion continues to grow in B.C. considering the many benefits.

Parents wanting to immerse their children in French have prompted Lynn Moore to offer French classes at her Promises Pre-School located at Parksville Elementary School. She said students who learn French at an early age enjoy certain cognitive advantages.

“They are already doing head and shoulders knees and toes in French,” a delighted Moore said.

Proponents of the program believe that having another language, particularly in a bilingual country such as Canada, is very helpful to a child’s future career choices.

Cummings said parents who fear that their own lack of French skills may be an impediment or at least a frustration are encouraged to come out and talk to parents who have children in the program.

The reality is that most of the parents with kids in French Immersion don’t speak a lot of French but Cummings said CPF and other organizations are there to offer support to families.

PES Principal Mary Beil who will be at the meeting says some of their French Immersion students will be on hand demonstrate their advanced language skills.

“People can see for themselves the ability of our young students” said Beil.

The information session is on Feb. 8, from 6:30 — 7:30 p.m. at Parksville Elementary School.

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