Memorial University is committed to improving French teacher recruitment and retention in Newfoundland and Labrador. As the only university in Newfoundland and Labrador we have a special obligation to meeting the needs of the people of this province including our French first language minority population. Le Conseil scolaire francophone provincial (CSFP)has consistently has consistently experienced a teacher shortage over the years. The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD) also struggles to fill vacant French teaching positions in rural communities of the province with qualified French teachers. As a result, teachers maybe employed to teach k-12 students with a lower level of expertise than would be ideally desirable for this domain of child/adolescent development.
Student enrollment in the CFSP, increased by approximately 10% from 2018-2020 and projections show a similar upward trend. French second language student enrollments are also increasing in schools of NLESD, with approximately 10,000 students enrolled in French immersion programs. In addition, Francophone immigration into Newfoundland and Labrador is increasing and bringing a richer and more diverse culture into our schools. Research conducted by Statistics Canada in 2016 shows an upward trend of international students who are eligible to enroll in Francophone schools and in immersion programs in the province.
The Faculty of Education at Memorial University is strongly committed to delivering high quality French Education degree programs to meet the needs of French immersion, French first language and French second language teachers and learners, not only for pre-service of our province but also for domestic students from other provinces who come to Memorial University for their initial teacher education. At Memorial, we offer two programs for students who wish to study to become French language educators. The Bachelor of Education (primary-elementary) as a second-degree program, is a five-semester program and the Bachelor of Education (Intermediate -secondary program), is a three-semester program, in which students must have a French major or minor. Both degree programs require students to have a DELF B2 proficiency level before entering the Faculty.
The Faculty of Education has also broadened its current French education program to prepare teacher candidates to teach in French first language schools and to provide future French second language teachers with a broader program that will prepare them to teach French in K-12 classrooms. In the past three years, we have offered an additional six education courses for our FSL education students in French, and are currently working on developing the seventh course. Our French education course offerings range from teaching methods, to courses on student exceptionalities, as well as seminar courses.
Furthermore, we have partnered with St Charles Garnier in Quebec City Quebec, to provide our teacher candidates with a two-week observation block, which not only broadens our student’s perspective on teaching, but adds an additional linguistic experience in the French milieu. This past year we supported 18 teacher interns to attend the National conference of the Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers where they participated in sessions presented by experts in French education.
In addition, we have implemented a new teacher mentorship program in collaboration with both our school districts in this province. The mentorship program consists of a team of expert teachers across the province to support our new teacher graduates. Our mentorship program provides teacher support and professional learning for our new graduates and we look forward to growing our program with the continued support from both NLESD and CSFP into its third year.
To further address teacher retention and recruitment, the Faculty of Education has developed a recruitment campaign which includes a social media blitz, information sessions on campus, kiosks at national conferences and increased bilingual signage in the faculty of education. The Faculty of Education also employs a full time French coordinator who supports students in French Education programs. All of these initiatives are made possible by the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Agreement for Minority-Language Education and Second Official-Language Instruction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jacqueline Rideout has been a second language educator for 35 years. She has taught k-12, core French and French immersion, in Newfoundland and Labrador and in New Brunswick. She also was in the role of French Program Specialist with the Newfoundland and Labrador School District. She has presented at ACPI and CASLT National conferences on pertinent issues in French education. She is currently the French Coordinator with the Faculty of Education at Memorial University and instructs in the French Education program.