Distance Learning for Second and Foreign Language Teaching

“Foreign language is crucial to a nation’s economic competitiveness and national security. Multilingualism enhances cognitive and social growth, competitiveness in the global marketplace…, national security, and understanding of diverse people and cultures. As we approach a new century where global communication will be essential for survival, we cannot afford the luxury of international ignorance…”
– The United States Congress, Foreign Language Assistance Act of 1994

French and English immersion programs blossomed in Canada in the 1970s, after the federal government adopted policies of bilingualism and multiculturalism.  Three decades later, immersion programs in one or both of Canada’s official languages can be found in every province and territory, although the length and intensity vary widely.

Popular in the 70’s, currently French Immersion programs face steep drop-out rates among high school students.  Enrollment is highest in the Atlantic provinces.  Prince Edward Island boasts 20 per cent enrollment, followed by Nova Scotia at 12 per cent and Newfoundland and Labrador at seven per cent.  Outside the Atlantic provinces, only Quebec is higher, at 22 per cent. But in British Columbia, only 2% of the teens are in high school french immersion.  (read the indepth report).

According to statistics Canada, about 5,231,500 people reported to the 2001 Census that they were bilingual . . . these individuals represent 17.7% of the population.

Do you think the use of innovative new technology can retain students in the program?

The Internet has emerged as a powerful medium to teach and learn foreign languages.  A BC Distributed Learning School, Summit Learning Centre, is the first DL school in Canada to offer French Immersion online.  Contact Cathy Anderson for more information.

Can  learning a second language online be motivating and engaging?  Will offering French Immersion Online help students needing flexibility in their timetable?  Can a second language with such a high oral component be successfully taught online?  >Read more about tools, resources and programs for learning a second language online.

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Raising the Bar

“Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” – Abagail Adams

Despite the enormous disparities in the world today, can you visualize a converging world in which every country is equal in wealth, health and literacy?

In today’s technologically-based global economy, developing literacy skills is regarded as a key strategy for promoting national economic growth.  Literacy is linked to economic success as literacy levels help determine the kind of jobs people find, the salaries they make and their ability to upgrade their work skills.

Fiedrich & Jellene (2003) state that a substantial body of evidence indicates that literacy increases the productivity and earning potential of a population. An educated person earns more and has greater labour mobility. While analysing the impact of literacy UNESCO (2005) observes that literacy not only enhances the individuals earning, it also has positive influence upon the economic growth of a country.

If Canada raises its national literacy score by one percent, the country’s national income will increase by $32 billion, said Craig Alexander, a chief economist and vice-president of TD Bank Group. Presenting some sobering statistics, he said the International Adult Literacy Survey found 40% of youth and 50% of adults in Canada don’t have the desired amount of literacy to succeed in a knowledge-based economy.

Around the world, renewed emphasis is being placed by governments and employers on literacy for all people to enhance their employability, level of remuneration, health and community participation.

Statistician Hans Rosling uses animated statistics to help us visualize how far we have come over the past 200 years and that it is possible, in our lifetime, to experience a converging world in which every country is equal in wealth, health and literacy.

Do you think that literacy is the key to health, wealth, peace and economic growth?