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Should local schools offer immersion in other languages?

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Summary

One-in-10 students in BC is enrolled in French Immersion

UBC research finds there are several benefits to learning two languages at the same time

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – One-in-10 students in our province is now enrolled in French Immersion and that number has been going up over the last 18 years.

Research from UBC has already shown the benefits of learning two languages at the same time, including better problem solving, collaborative and cognitive abilities.

And given the diverse population in the province, expanding the program to include immersion in other languages makes sense, says Queenie Choo with S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a Vancouver-based non-profit that helps new Canadians overcome cultural barriers.

“I think that any language that is going to help an individual to open up doors and advance their career would be very beneficial to any individual,” says Choo, who has a daughter that went through French Immersion.

Choo explains she hasn’t been approached by people floating the idea yet but, being able to apply and practice any language during the learning process, is an important factor when considering any immersion program. “Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, because of the richness of our diversity in our community, especially in the Lower Mainland, it (immersion) definitely helps in looking for opportunities for the future.”

She adds the right teachers need to be in place for such an idea to work and the students in the program need to be motivated to succeed.

And she favours a slow and steady approach. “It needs to be tested. We’ve got to learn from the experience. So you could have a pilot and make sure all the kinks are ironed out before going into full implementation. So we need to give it a try and see how it will work.”