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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