SFU French language program gains federal support

June 02, 2014

Simon Fraser University’s 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.

bilateral agreement with the federal government through the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities initiative will enable the B.C. Ministry of Education to receive the funds on SFU’s behalf.

The funding will enable OFFA, established by SFU in 2004, to continue meeting 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.

Working in collaboration with SFU’s Faculty of Education and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, OFFA develops, coordinates and promotes SFU programs and courses taught in French.

As well as complementing programs taught in French at SFU and promoting the value of French language, OFFA nurtures links to the 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:

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 a Bootcamp FrancoFun, a three-day experiential workshop, with French language classes designed for teachers. 

As well, a new major in French with a Pre-Teacher Education Option is being developed, which will better prepare students to enter the French module of PDP.

OFFA also supports a variety of French language cultural and program-related activities on and off campus, such as the annual Printemps de la francophonie à SFU.

SFU is among 14 francophone and bilingual universities in Canada that are members of the Association des universités de la francophonie canadienne (AUFC). SFU is also a member of the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) and the Association internationale des études québécoises (AIEQ).


French Cohort Program (FCP) (four-year degree emphasizing public administration and community services)

  • Since 2008, 56 graduates; 70 students annually;
  • Most of the alumni will have completed their studies with a major in political science and an extended minor in French; there is a growing tendency for double major in political science and French;
  • Approximately one-third of alumni will continue with grad studies (public policy; political science; public administration; law; French); one-third will go into SFU’s French module of the Professional Development Program and one third into workforce (government agencies; private sector; often bilingualism required);
  • FCP students’ field research projects cover questions of B.C. community organizations and governance; bilingualism in Health Canada; development of bilingual policies; use of French in government agencies.

Faculty of Education programs

  • Since 2004, SFU has recommended certification of more than 600 new teachers of French (Core French, immersion and francophone programs); more than 100 teachers have graduated with a master’s degree taught entirely in French; 150 B.C. French teachers have obtained a Graduate Studies Diploma also taught in French; and roughly 2,000 Core French teachers have participated in non-credit French language curriculum workshop series.

SFU francophone faculty members’ research projects include these themes: language policies and multiculturalism in Canada; ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity; francophone immigration; French in Maillardville, B.C.; policy and education in applied linguistics research; identities and empowerment of Core French teachers in B.C.; literacy practices in elementary French immersion in B.C.; inclusion of diversity in B.C. schools, just to name a few.

Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.

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By Carol Thorbes, Information Officer, SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations