UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Facilitators and barriers to participation of children with developmental disabilities in French immersion in Vancouver, B.C. : providers' beliefs and opinions Chang, Kristina Baobao


French immersion (FI) is an optional dual language program in which classroom instruction is in French for a significant portion of the curriculum. During the 2018/2019 school year, almost 1 in 10 students in British Columbia, Canada, were enrolled in FI. This program is attended by children both with and without developmental disabilities (DD; such as autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, and developmental language disorder). However, very little is known about the former group’s experiences, which raises ethical questions about opportunity and enrollment. To better understand why some children with DD may participate more or better than others, this thesis explores the factors that help and hinder their participation. Analysis of interviews with 14 education and healthcare professionals from the Vancouver region who have worked with students with DD attending or considering FI reveal many facilitators and barriers organized into the following categories: Child, Family, Provider, School, Community, System, and Combination. Notably, factors often combine to create supportive or hindering conditions. The finding that the influences on participation are multifactorial, underscores the need for providers to use a wide lens when considering and discussing with parents whether and how a child with DD will participate in FI. This study is the first to utilize qualitative data from a larger group of experienced providers to explicitly examine facilitators and barriers on this population’s participation in FI. Possibilities for future research include interviewing the students themselves or their parents, focusing on other geographical regions in Canada, as well as conducting longitudinal studies that further explore relationships between factors and participation.

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