Last year, the Vancouver School District was one of a handful of districts to sign an agreement with Aix-Marseille and Nice school jurisdictions in France. The agreement would provide the opportunity to exchange language educators between the two school districts; creating more French Immersion opportunities for Vancouver students and English language opportunities for French students. In addition, an agreement to host French language teachers-in-training (language monitors) was also signed.
The Vancouver District offers the largest French Immersion program in the province, with approximately 200 French Immersion teachers. However, finding enough qualified, local French Immersion specialist teachers to meet the growing student interest to study French, continues to be a challenge in Vancouver and beyond.
Since the agreements were signed, Marie-Antoinette Parellada and Sarah Priarone were hired to teach French to Vancouver students.
Philippe Sutter, Consul General of France in Vancouver, representing the French government in Western Canada, congratulates the two successful candidates in taking positions with the Vancouver School District. "Not only have we signed the agreement with Aix-Marseille and Nice school jurisdictions, but Vancouver is one of the first school districts to implement the agreement; being a great example to other school districts in B.C."
About the exchange teachers
Marie-Antoin Parellada, who has been teaching in France since 2003, currently teaches grades 4 to 7 French Immersion students. "It was challenging at first to get used to the different environment, culture and curriculum," admits Parellada. "But the Vancouver School District has helped me quickly learn about the Canadian education system through its many workshops offered to teachers as part of our professional development."
Parellada adds, "In fact, I enjoy attending the workshops and learning new teaching techniques the most because I can bring these skills back to my colleagues in France." Parellada who will be staying in Vancouver until at least the end of the 2019-2020 school year, notes she enjoys living and working in a city close to nature that is also urbanized enough to keep her two kids and husband happy.
Sarah Prianone, originally from Roquebrune-sur-Argens in Southeastern France, currently supports French Immersion students as a French Language Monitor. Prianone spends her week between Selkirk, Secord and Quilchenna elementary schools. As a language monitor, Prianone helps provide educational activities to students to develop their communication skills and increase their knowledge of the French culture.
Compared to the French education system, Prianon is impressed with the students' ability to express themselves and understand complex topics such as sexual orientation and gender identity at an early age. "Being in three different schools allows me to see the diverse backgrounds and demographics Vancouver has to offer," says Prianone. "I'm amazed at the level of acceptance and multiculturalism each school teaches, but it's also an undeniable pattern in Vancouver schools."
The Vancouver School District is committed to strengthening and expanding opportunities in French language education for students, teachers and administrators. The educator exchange program and language monitor agreements with partners in France bring the District one step closer to meeting the demand heard by parents and students for more French Immersion opportunities. This is the first year implementing the programs and the District looks forward to hiring more qualified French educators in the years to come.
To learn more about the District's French Immersion programs, click here for elementary and here for secondary programs.