Whitehorse Daily Star

Territory’s French immersion numbers continue to rise

While full registration numbers for the 2016/2017 school year won’t be available until mid-September,

By Stephanie Waddell on August 30, 2016

While full registration numbers for the 2016/2017 school year won’t be available until mid-September, if last year’s figures are any indication it appears more Yukon students are learning a second official language.

A report released Monday showed enrollment in French Immersion programs has increased steadily for 14 consecutive years in the territory, with the 2015/2016 school year showing a total of 670 students enrolled in a French Immersion program. That represents approximately 13 per cent of the 5,251 total Kindergarten to Grade 12 student population that was in the territory for the 2015/2016 school year.

While 13 per cent of students in the Yukon last year were in a French Immersion program, they would have all been in Whitehorse where the only immersion programs are offered at Ecole Whitehorse Elementary School, Selkirk Elementary School and F.H. Collins Secondary School.

Last year marked the first year for Selkirk’s French Immersion program, which began as a pilot project in light of growing numbers looking for immersion spots at Whitehorse Elementary, which served as the immersion school for elementary students. After last year’s program at Selkirk, it was announced that school would also continue to offer immersion.

“French immersion is a well-tested and well-established program delivery model,” Patti Holm, president of the Canadian Parents for French BC & Yukon, said in a statement. “In fact, this made-in-Canada program has been studied and replicated around the world – largely to preserve and protect native or minority languages. French immersion is designed to help students become fully bilingual by the time they graduate. It’s a powerful tool in your toolbox and graduates can use it in many different ways.”

Glyn Lewis, executive director for the BC & Yukon branch of the organization, described the increasing numbers of students enrolled in the program as “encouraging”.

He said during a visit to the territory a few months back he met with parents and officials in the Department of Education and it was in those meetings he got a sense that there is support for the programs to grow.

He also stressed though the importance of the quality of immersion programs, noting the studies done showing the need to fully “immerse” students in French in the early grades before slowly introducing some English curriculum.

In many schools across the country, students are in Grade 3 or 4 before they begin studying some English. By Grade 6 or 7 their English skills are typically on par with those in the English stream along with gaining a proficiency in French through immersion.

By graduation, it’s anticipated students who have gone through an immersion program will be bilingual or very fluent in both languages.

Students through the territory – in immersion, English and French first language programs – are beginning classes this week.


Comments (7)

Up 13 Down 8

Josey Wales on Aug 31, 2016 at 11:47 pm

I too think Thomas has a point. Long ago the public school system stopped educating and went directly to indoctrination mode just as the engineered 70s kicked in.
Been brainwashing kiddies and stuffing complete garbage into their cranium ever since.
Folks trust me, be very very grateful I have no kids, and no kids in the public school system.
Hell I think even I would prefer elitist education with a side order of arrogance, as opposed to the indoctrination centers peddling their revisionist history nonsense and progressive delusions.

Up 13 Down 6

Really? on Aug 31, 2016 at 12:23 pm

It looks as though some people need to educate themselves if this story was intended to inform rather than misinform people. There is indeed more than a grain of truth to the comment made by Thomas Brewer and I rarely agree with his comments in the newspaper. Many parents choose French Immersion because they don't like their neighbourhood school. Why expand to Selkirk? Could it be because they have a declining enrolment and why is that? Also this article implies that English is introduced late which is not at all the case in the Yukon. It would appear from the comments people do not know the facts and this article did nothing to help them to learn.

Up 6 Down 19

Chuck Kaplan on Aug 31, 2016 at 8:47 am

Canada!!! What a country!!!! Bonjour from Montreal!

Up 10 Down 19

Just Say'in on Aug 30, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Because you can't get a government job without it.

Up 22 Down 7

Thomas Brewer on Aug 30, 2016 at 7:22 pm

More and more parents are streaming there kids into this program because of lousy regular schools. Over the long term, this is going to break the schooling model. Fix the regular schools.

Up 14 Down 10

June Jackson on Aug 30, 2016 at 4:18 pm


All the above being said, with another Trudeau on the throne i'd think it is prudent of ALL parents to get their children into French Immersion, lest they miss out in the future should Trudeau offer tax incentives for parents whose children are enrolled in french only classes.

Are there figures on how many special needs children are enrolled or have graduated? How many years have had french PE teachers? How many girls vs how many boys are enrolled. I am thinking of social dynamics. All the information on the net points to french immersion being wildly successful... but only to groups from white or higher income families. Are our refugee's being offered spaces in these classes? First Nations? Special needs? Working poor?

Just asking..

Up 30 Down 4

Francis Pillman on Aug 30, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Sounds like perfectly timed propaganda to get their own school.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.