French immersion a popular option for students in the Cowichan Valley school district. (Submitted photo)

French immersion a popular choice in the Cowichan

Almost 13 per cent of local district’s student population enrolled last year

Enrolment in French immersion in the Cowichan Valley school district has become a popular option.

In the 2018-19 school year, 12.7 per cent of the district’s student population, or 1,049 students, were enrolled in French immersion programs.

According to a report released by the Canadian Parents for French B.C. and Yukon last week, enrolment in French immersion has been increasing across the province for more than 20 years.

As of the 2018-2019 school year, 53,995 students were enrolled in French immersion across B.C., or 9.49 per cent of the entire student body in the province.

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“This year we celebrated 50 years of French immersion in British Columbia,” said Greer Cummings, president of Canadian Parents for French BC & Yukon.

“From modest and determined beginnings, this exceptional education program has grown to expand into almost every corner of our province.”

According to Stats Canada, Canadians who speak both French and English earn, on average, 10 per cent more, and have a lower unemployment rate compared to Canadians who only speak one of Canada’s two official languages.

As well, there are cognitive developmental benefits of learning an additional language, such as stronger listening skills, improved focus and concentration, increased ability to understand complex problems and higher tolerance, insight and understanding of other cultures.

“Today we celebrate the strength and resilience of our multicultural and multilingual society,” said Glyn Lewis, executive director of CPFBCYK.

“The continued growth of French immersion is a wonderful extension and reflection of our cultural heritage.”

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