“Now is a great time to be a French teacher”


In celebration of Francophonie Month, we sought to gain insight into the development and evolution of French education in British Columbia. We approached our esteemed colleague Cheryl Edge and asked her to share her perspective as an experienced professional in French immersion.

Cheryl taught in French immersion from 1988 to 2014, before serving as a school principal in Delta from 2014 to 2021. Currently, she holds the position of recruitment manager at Make a Future, driven by her strong belief in the advantages of the French immersion program and her desire to actively support the recruitment of a new generation of teachers.

Photo Cheryl E.

Can you tell us how you perceived the evolution of French immersion over the years?

Back in January 1988, when I entered the teaching workforce, there was a significant demand for French Immersion teachers. Having graduated from SFU’s French module, I found myself as one of the few Anglophone teachers in a predominantly Francophone cohort.

During this period, French Immersion classes typically constituted one-third of a dual-track school’s offerings, with some tensions arising from disparities in funding and resources between French and English programs. Additionally, back in the days, I feel like there was a perception of elitism surrounding French Immersion, leading to strained relationships with English staff who felt that the program attracted only the best students.

How has it improved?

Throughout my journey as a French Immersion teacher, I’ve experienced a blend of triumphs and challenges. Over the years, I’ve witnessed a remarkable evolution in attitudes towards French Immersion programs.

What used to be niche offerings have now become recognized as valuable and sought-after educational opportunities in mainstream education. This shift shows a growing recognition of the importance of bilingualism and the French language in BC.

My experiences in the classroom have reaffirmed my belief in the transformative power of bilingual education, not only from linguistic point of view but also in promoting cultural understanding and enriching the educational experience for students of all backgrounds.

How do you see the future of French immersion programs in BC?

Opportunities abound due to the increasing demand for French immersion education. Recent statistics indicate a notable 7% increase in enrollment over the past decade. If this trend continues, we can expect to see a growing number of bilingual individuals in the province. This demographic shift promises benefits across cultural, economic, and various other domains.

However, alongside these opportunities, there are challenges to address, particularly regarding workforce shortages within the education sector. Filling teaching roles remains a pressing concern, reflecting a broader global issue.

Nevertheless, there is reason for optimism. Efforts to enhance French immersion programs are gaining momentum, evidenced by the rise in incentives, funding, and overall enthusiasm. In my current capacity as Bilingual Recruitment Manager at Make a Future, I am involved in proactive recruitment strategies aimed at attracting French-speaking talent to meet these challenges head-on.

What is the job market like for French teachers today?

Whether you are looking for a teaching position in FSL, French Immersion or FFL the opportunities are plentiful.  There are approximately 50 of our 60 districts that offer French Immersion, all districts offer FSL, and the CSF has almost 50 schools throughout British Columbia.  Now is a great time to be a French teacher.

What do young candidates ask you the most when you go to Career Fairs at Universities?

Teacher candidates are generally eager to know about the process to apply for a position, what employers are looking for, and what will set them apart.  They want to know about the language requirements and the interview process.

What are tips for making sure you stand out to get hired as a French teacher?

When creating your Make a Future profile, ensure that you upload all the required documents, particularly your practicum reports to give your employer as much information as possible. Be sure to include references that have seen you teach. Tailor your cover letter to reflect the mission and values of the district, and you can even upload a portfolio on your profile.  Remember this profile is the first impression you are giving to the employer.


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