Evidence of meeting #34 for Official Languages in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was education.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

10:35 a.m.

President, Canadian Association of Immersion Teachers

Philippe LeDorze

Investing in that is very important. Investing in culture is also important. That way, young people who learn a second language can know that doing so gives them access to all this beautiful culture.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Michael Chong

Okay, thanks.

Mr. Godin, go ahead.

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Welcome, everyone. I apologize for being late. I had other commitments.

Ms. Turnbull, I understand you are from New Brunswick.

10:35 a.m.

Vice-President, Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

I think that we have met before.

Are you proud of what is happening in New Brunswick?

10:35 a.m.

Vice-President, Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers

Caroline Turnbull

Yes. There is always more to be done, but I find that our province and our school systems are putting more emphasis on teaching the second official language, given that our province is officially bilingual.

As examples, I could mention the intensive French program, which all young anglophones in the province now have access to starting in grade 5, and the pre-intensive program, which is offered in grade 4. We have been able to develop a program that produces results. The previous Core French program did not.

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

It didn't produce results?

10:40 a.m.

Vice-President, Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers

Caroline Turnbull

Core French…

March 29th, 2012 / 10:40 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Let me give you an example. My nieces have children. They are three years old and they can go from English to French. It is beautiful. They are young and they learn quickly. But New Brunswick, your province and mine, has decided to start immersion in grade 5 rather than in grade 1.

But all the experts, including the University of Ottawa professors who testified before this committee, have told us that it is not the right way to go. We are talking about the only officially bilingual province in Canada here. Maybe you will say that it is a political matter. But it isn't; it is a human matter and it is affecting New Brunswick. We know that learning is better at a young age and we are setting French aside until grade 5. Actually, I think they subsequently decided to start in grade 3.

Could you tell me your opinion?

10:40 a.m.

Vice-President, Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers

Caroline Turnbull

On the anglophone side, the immersion program is now available from grade 3. I am actually a teacher, but I have been working in the francophone section of the ministry of education for 12 years. My main responsibilities are for English as a second language for francophones.

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

I want to know if you think that the decision to start immersion in grade 5 was well thought out.

10:40 a.m.

Vice-President, Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers

Caroline Turnbull

It's not grade 5 any more.

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Grade 3, then.

10:40 a.m.

Vice-President, Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers

Caroline Turnbull

I think that the current government of New Brunswick is studying the matter and will make its views known in due course.

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

I know what the government of New Brunswick is doing; that is where I am from. I am asking you as a professional whether you feel it would be better to continue offering immersion from grade 1. That is what witnesses have told us. If we want to promote languages, the two official languages in Canada, if we want people to learn the other language, the present approach is perhaps not the best. Don't forget that, in New Brunswick, Canadian Parents for French demonstrated in front of the Legislative Building in Fredericton. Even parents were saying they did not want it.

Forget the government studies and, as a professional, tell me if starting immersion in grade 3 is a good thing.