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Immersion in the second generation, a fascinating report from Canada

May 24, 2013
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - September 25, 2013 - Jim and Andrea Kavanagh work with their children Eric, 5, Charlotte,10, and Carolyn, 12, on French homework in their Winnipeg home recently. Friday, January 25, 2013. Andrea Kavanagh went to French Immersion and eventually became a French elementary teacher. There is a rise in French Immersion enrolment and its potential link to the first kids of French Immersion having their own kids in school now. (John Woods for the Globe and Mail) (JOHN WOODS/GLOBE AND MAIL)

French immersion enrolment skyrockets as a new linguistic category emerges

JOE FRIESEN

DEMOGRAPHICS REPORTER — The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Jan. 28 2013, 9:05 PM EST

Last updated Monday, Feb. 25 2013, 12:42 PM EST

Andrea Kavanagh is a child of French immersion’s first wave.

Born in the heart of English-speaking Winnipeg in 1971, she was just 10 years old when she rode two buses 30 minutes across town every day to attend the city’s first immersion school. She went on to a French-language college and eventually a career as a French teacher.

Bilingualism transformed her life. It opened the door to opportunities that would have otherwise passed her by. Now she wants to pass on those same opportunities to her three children, all of whom attend the local French immersion school. They represent a little-studied but growing segment of Canada: French immersion’s second generation.

Over the last five years enrolment in French immersion has skyrocketed across the country. It’s up 12 per cent since 2006, according to new figures from Statistics Canada. And the timing of this jump coincides with the period in which the children of the first cohort to attend French immersion started to arrive at elementary schools.

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