Ronald MacDonald, dean of education at UPEI, left, chats with Graham Fraser, Canada’s commissioner of official languages and Brittany Jakubiec, president, Canadian Parents for French P.E.I. at the recent culture and language learning symposium at the university.
“In P.E.I. and across the country there is a French teacher shortage.”
UPEI’s dean of education Ronald MacDonald voiced this concern during a discussion on enhancing French language education recently at the university.
More than 65 delegates representing groups from across the country gathered for the Consultation on Culture and Language Learning symposium presented by UPEI and Canadian Parents for French P.E.I., with support from the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.
More than 17,000 people on Prince Edward Island speak French, including more than 5,000 who speak it as a first language.
With more young people than ever seeking the benefits of bilingualism, participants at the symposium discussed their challenges and opportunities.
Participants discussed ways to encourage both first and second French language speakers to live more fully in French: at work, at home and in public.
MacDonald spoke of education’s role in encouraging a flourishing French community.
“All of our BEd graduates find work, sometimes even before they graduate,” said MacDonald. “This province-wide partnership created to support French language and culture will surely contribute to this gap in the workforce.”
The symposium also included a special presentation by Graham Fraser, Canada’s commissioner of official languages, and provided an arena to share priorities for improving teaching and learning, addressing achievement gaps and sharing best practices for supporting the well-being and educational outcomes of P.E.I. students.
“This symposium is just a start to the discussion on how we can improve and enhance language learning for Island students,” said Brittany Jakubiec, president of Canadian Parents for French P.E.I. “We are thrilled with the quality of the conversation today and looking forward to the next steps identified by this group.”