From the Sun:
FRENCH IMMERSION RESULTS SHOW HOW MUCH MORE CAN BE DONE
Parents who have made the difficult decision to enrol their children in French immersion programs have reason to celebrate this week, especially in British Columbia.
A new Statistics Canada study shows 15-year-old students in French immersion programs outperformed their counterparts in English programs when tested on their English readings skills.
B.C. French immersion students got the highest test scores in the country and had one of the largest leads over students in the English system here.
The findings should end any lingering fear that immersion programs produce students who can get by in both official languages but are proficient in neither one.
But they should also give educators in B.C. cause to question why the performance gap between students in the English and French immersion streams is so large.
Interest in French-language programs has been lagging in most of Canada, but it has been growing in B.C. Just over five per cent of all students in B.C. public schools are in the program, while 10 per cent of kindergarten children are learning in French.
While the new study shows that these students are doing well, it also suggests that the reason may have little to do with whether French immersion is inherently a better form of teaching.
The report noted that the parents of French immersion students tend to come from higher socio-economic backgrounds, buy found no factor or combination of factors was enough to explain the difference in outcome.
A large part of the answer surely lies in teh reason many parents choose to put their children into French immersion, especially here in B.C. where French is not ordinarily a part of daily life.
Naturally, parents want to open doors for their children. In Canada, fluency in French is clearly an asset, especially for anyone interested in workin gin the federal public service.
But many parents are equally attracted to the way French immersion programs have functioned much like a private school within the public system, especially in a time of growing class sizes.
The phenomenon starts with the fact that the French stream is a self-selected group. It is enhanced by parents who on average take a higher degree of interest in the education of their children.
That benefit is compunded by the homogenity of the classes. Students who have discipline problems or who are struggling in school typically drop out of the French stream.
That means that, by middle school, teachers of large French immersion classes spend far less time bringing up the rear, dealing with children with special needs or being distracted by students who routinely disrupt the classroom. That means they can devote more time to hte pursuit of academic excellence.
All of this shows that educators in B.C. need to look at what makes the French stream successful and see what lessons can be transferred to the majority of students who are studying in English.
We note that B.C. schools have continued to make progress in improving test scores in most subjects in a challenging environment.
These results simply show how much more we can do.
I'll tell you why immersion kids get better grades - it's because they've been the beneficiaries of higher expectations from an early age, that's why. When you start learning a second language at four or five, it in fact does enhance your ability to learn. Really. All this crap about immersion producing kids who can "get by in both language but are proficient in neither" is not being put forth by the CPF - it's coming from parents who don't teach their kids to read before they hit the public system. Which *also* enhances the ability to learn. Advances it, even, in comparison to their peers, though it's sad that it's considered advanced.
The French stream is a "self-selected group", because it's composed of kids whose parents actually give a shit about their education? Gee, really? That's not blindingly obvious or anything, that kids would do better academically if their parents are involved in the process.
Homogenity. Well, that's less a thing that's good about the French stream than a thing that's lacking in the English - the English is the majority, and so it's an exercise in entropy. Lowest common denominator teaching. You shouldn't have to be making kids stand in the corner by age fourteen. It shouldn't be necessary. It's amazing how the average age for sex is going down but immaturity is skyrocketing. o.O
And you know what else? Immersion is an inherently better program, if only because, hey, we're an officially bilingual country. Kids should be learning both languages in public school. Learning in two languages from a very young age makes a child better equipped to learn everything else. Take my word for it. Even in enriched programs, a good big chunk of them are immersion kids. It's a good thing. I think the public schools should all be immersion - maybe we'd lose the private school feel (which I do remember), but it'd be worth it. Quasi- and actual illiteracy's too high on this continent, especially for an industrialized society that has absolutely no excuse, already.
PS: We beat out fancy-pants Ontario. Nyah, nyah. :P