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Ottawa, March 14, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Statement from the Commissioner of Official Languages – Reform of French Second Language programs in New Brunswick 

The Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, responded to the announcement made today by New Brunswick Minister of Education Kelly Lamrock on the reform of programs to teach French as a second language.

I am impressed by Mr. Lamrock’s determination to provide a universal program for all English-speaking New Brunswick students that ensures they will have an opportunity to master French. A mandatory program is often a good way to ensure that a subject receives its due attention. I hope that the Government of New Brunswick is prepared to provide the resources needed to make the Intensive French program, which has apparently been successful as a pilot project, a province-wide success.

I am pleased that New Brunswick’s Minister of Education has decided to maintain the target of 70 per cent of the province’s high school graduates able to function in their second official language. This target is well above the federal one of 50 per cent.

However, I am disappointed to learn that Early Immersion is going to be eliminated. Early Immersion has been very successful in other provinces, and I have always believed that it is important to have a range of options available for young people to learn their other official language. A great deal of research shows that with the proper support, children learn language more easily the earlier they start.

As successful French Second Language programs—and the Report of the French Second Language Commission—make clear, training and preparation will be necessary for teachers, principals, students and parents if New Brunswick is to achieve its ambitious goals. As Canada’s only bilingual province, New Brunswick plays a critical role in language teaching, and the whole country will be watching this initiative.

Graham Fraser
Commissioner of Official Languages  

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For more information, please contact: 

Robin Cantin
Manager, Media Relations
Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages
Telephone: 613‑995-0374
Cellular: 613‑324-0999
Toll free: 1‑877‑996-6368