Province celebrates new French teacher education students and expands training efforts.


Relief is in sight for parents who want to enrol their children in French language programs, thanks to the 37 additional French teacher training spaces filled this year and an investment in new spaces.

Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, joined officials from Simon Fraser University (SFU), the University of British Columbia (UBC), the French Consulate and the Canadian Parents for French to meet this year’s cohort of student French teachers, seeing first-hand how recruitment efforts are working. There are 17 new French-language training spaces at SFU and 20 at UBC funded by the province in partnership with the Government of Canada, as part of ongoing recruitment and retention strategies.

“Demand is growing and yet for too long parents have suffered through wait lists to have their children placed in French-language programs. That’s why I am so pleased this year’s student French teacher education seats are full,” Fleming said. “It is critical we continue investing to meet current and future demands, so we can provide the services families in B.C. want.”

While at SFU, Fleming announced that the Ministry of Education will fund 37 more French teacher education seats for the 2019-20 school year, another 17 for SFU and 20 for UBC Okanagan. That means there is now a total of 74 new French teacher education seats funded by the Province. 

“Many parents are unable to find spaces in French-language programs for their children, in part due to a shortage of specialized teachers in our province,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Investing in even more targeted teacher education seats will help tackle the recruitment of more teachers for French programs in the K-12 sector. Great teachers will help shape the minds of our future leaders, innovators and creators.”

In February 2018, the province also invested $180,000 in partnership with the Government of Canada to support SFU and UBC to implement initiatives to address French teacher recruitment and retention challenges.

Both universities used the added investment to create scholarships and bursaries for attracting teachers. SFU also created an online undergraduate education course to increase interest for students majoring in French, in addition to professional development resources for working French teachers.

UBC added resources to double the French immersion and French-language teaching programs, plus it created more opportunities for working teachers to transition into French Immersion and upgrade their skills through the French master of education and summer immersion programs.

This year’s group of French teacher education students at UBC will be ready to teach by September 2019, while SFU graduates will be ready to teach by January 2020.

Presse release published on the BC Gov News:

Kris Magnusson, dean, faculty of education, SFU –

“These new investments support SFU’s 15-year commitment to teacher education in French in B.C. The additional funding permits the faculty of education to increase enrolment, to train and to retain qualified French teachers through bursaries, innovative delivery and rich and relevant professional development in French for teachers in practice. SFU will continue to work in partnership with the Ministry of Education and communities to support the needs of the Conseil Scolaire Francophone and French immersion programs all over British Colombia. As the demand for education in French grows exponentially in B.C., it is also timely that the Government of Canada renews its investments in post-secondary education in French for British Columbians.”

Meike Wernicke, faculty of education, UBC –

“At UBC, we are pleased to have doubled enrolment of teacher candidates in the French immersion option of our teacher education program. We have put extra learning opportunities in place to support teacher candidates with skills for the French language classroom. Working teachers will have greater access to our French master of education program and our long-running summer Institut de Français in Quebec City. We share Minister Fleming’s desire to continue on this path of support in the long term.”

Glyn Lewis, Canadian Parents for French, B.C. –

“The booming popularity of French programs has been a wonderful development for our education system. Unfortunately, we haven’t been graduating, or retaining, enough French teachers to keep up with the demand. We estimate we are short somewhere between 100 and 150 French teachers in communities all around the province right now. We applaud the B.C. Ministry of Education for rolling out concrete initiatives to help meet our short-term and long-term needs.”

Quick Facts:

  • Over the last 10 years, the number of francophone students increased by 41% and the number of French immersion students increased by 26%.
  • In the 2017-18 school year, there were:
    • 5,940 students in the francophone program, about 1% of the B.C. student population;
    • 53,487 students in French immersion, about 9.5% of the B.C. student population.
  • Other recruitment strategies include new scholarships and bursaries to encourage French students to study and teach in British Columbia, and a mission was sent to France and Belgium in April 2018.
  • For the 2018-19 year, the Province certified 15 teachers from France to work in B.C. – 12 since the mission from France – and an additional eight applications for certification are currently in process.
  • Studies show the benefits of bilingualism for children include a better aptitude for learning new concepts, problem solving and multi-tasking skills. Being bilingual also opens more job opportunities.