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Priorities in the recruitment of French immersion teachers in British Columbia Veilleux, Ingrid

Abstract

The study entitled 'Priorities in the Recruitment of French Immersion Teachers in British Columbia' compared the priorities of French immersion parents and school district Directors of Human Resources on issues surrounding French immersion teacher recruitment. A survey was sent to 44 Directors of Human Resources, representing all school districts with French immersion programs in the province, with a response rate of 64 percent. One hundred surveys were sent to French immersion parents in the province with a response rate of 48 percent. Seven follow-up interviews were conducted. The results of the survey revealed a consensus amongst parents, Directors of Human Resources and university French immersion pre-service teacher education programs in British Columbia on the minimum expected level of French proficiency for a French immersion teacher. Parents and Directors of Human Resources rated language skills as a top priority followed by teaching skills, personal qualities and knowledge of French culture. Nonetheless, respondents from both groups qualified their rankings by saying that it would be undesirable to possess one set of characteristics at the expense of another. Parents expressed a preference for francophone French immersion teachers, particularly from Quebec, and may therefore be surprised by the high number of anglophones teaching in the program. Directors of Human Resources expressed a preference for hiring graduates from the French immersion stream df pre-service teacher education programs followed by bilingual anglophones. They suggested that anglophones tended to be local teachers who, due to their familiarity with school culture, would be easier to retain than teachers from elsewhere. Using a teacher shortage spectrum formulated for this study, Directors of Human Resources provided the average number of job applicants for a typical job opening in the French immersion and English streams in the 2001 - 2002 school-year in their school district. A shortage of French immersion teachers was found to exist in British Columbia. The shortage is worse in rural school districts than in urban school districts. No shortage of teachers was reported in the English stream. Encouragingly, all school districts reported that they verify the level of French proficiency of French immersion teacher candidates although the tools used to do s o vary significantly from district to district, from checking course work credentials only to having prospective immersion teachers complete oral and written tests. Parents and Directors of Human Resources expressed opposition to lowering hiring standards in order to address and shortage of French immersion teachers.

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