SFU French language program gains federal support
The Office of Francophone and Francophile Affairs (OFFA) won’t mark its 10th anniversary until this fall.
But with $2 million in funding for each of the next five years from Canada’s Department of Canadian Heritage, Official Languages, OFFA has plenty of reason to celebrate now.
OFFA, established at SFU in 2004, will use the funding to continue to meet the post-secondary educational needs of B.C.’s francophone and francophile communities.
That mandate includes addressing a growing demand for French Immersion teachers in the province’s public school system.
As well as complementing programs taught in French at SFU and promoting the value of the French language, OFFA nurtures links to francophone and francophile communities, organizations and institutions provincially, nationally and internationally.
It also maintains working relationships with the provincial and federal government.
A key OFFA objective is to position SFU as a leader in French language post-secondary education at the provincial and national levels.
“This funding will enable us to continue to meet the demand in British Columbia for post-secondary education in Canada’s second official language,” says SFU President Andrew Petter.
“Being this province’s only member of the Association of Canadian Francophone Universities (AUFC) gives SFU a unique role in fostering bilingualism and engagement with B.C.’s francophone community.”
Between 1951 and 2011 the number of people in B.C. able to speak both of Canada’s official languages grew from 40,160 to 298,645. More than 300,000 people provincially can speak French and 70,000 of them have declared French as their first language.
“Many of the students enrolled in SFU’s French language programs and courses speak more than one language, sometimes three or four,” says OFFA Director Claire Trépanier. “We need to celebrate the fact that those multilingual students choose to pursue post-secondary education in French in B.C. They understand the importance of the French language in Canada. They want to be engaged in the B.C. francophone community and contribute to Canada’s linguistic duality.”
Two OFFA flagship programs are:
- The French Cohort Program – students complete a bachelor’s degree focusing on public administration and community services, in both official languages
- The French Module of the Professional Development Program (PDP) prepares future teachers of French language programs such as French Immersion.
In collaboration with the Faculty of Education and the Department of French, OFFA is developing an Intensive Language Education Activity Program (ILEAP) to increase elementary public school teachers’ proficiency in teaching Core French.
This program combines Bootcamp FrancoFun, a three-day experiential workshop, with French language classes designed for teachers.
OFFA is also developing a new major in French with a Pre-Teacher Education Option, to prepare students entering the French module of PDP.