FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has accepted 18 recommendations to improve second-language learning in New Brunswick. The recommendations were contained in a report by two commissioners appointed to conduct a review of the Official Languages Act.

“These recommendations align with a variety of work underway for quite some time at the department,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “New Brunswick is Canada’s only bilingual province. We remain committed to ensuring every student has the tools they need to graduate with a minimum of conversational proficiency in both official languages while providing opportunities for advanced second-language learning.”

Recommendations 2-4 and 20 aim to improve second-language learning at early learning and child-care facilities, while recommendations 7-20 focus on the public school system. In addition, the department has accepted the first recommendation, which is to adopt the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment in the New Brunswick context as the standardized tool to inform programs related to second- and additional language learning.

Cardy said the report’s findings echo feedback the department has heard from students, educators, stakeholders and families in recent years. While timelines will vary, Cardy said the commissioners’ work is appreciated and the department will implement their recommendations.

To address concerns that French second-language learning programs have not been meeting the needs of every student, consultations will be held in the coming months to find ways of improving this framework in the anglophone sector. This process will include:

  • Working with educators to develop solutions that take into account regional resources and realities to ensure every student has equal opportunities to learn French as a second language.
  • Continuing to expand local French second-language learning projects.
  • Adopting one framework that provides more individualized learning options for all anglophone students, with opportunities for advanced French second-language learning.

“Building a world-class education system means giving every student an equal opportunity and the tools and resources they need to succeed and reach their full potential,” said Cardy. “The current model in the anglophone sector has created a social hierarchy and has led to many students feeling discouraged about French second-language learning. We want to work with New Brunswickers, particularly educators and academic professionals, to come to the table and discuss how we build on our strengths and local successes to create a program that works for every individual student across every region of the province.”

Enrolment for existing French immersion programs will continue, however families should be prepared for changes to programming.

The francophone sector has committed to reinstating second-language assessments for graduating students.

Department staff have been working to adjust learning models to better support newcomers and students whose first language is neither English nor French. This includes continued work to develop and offer language courses to align with calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

The anglophone and francophone sectors are also looking for ways to promote cross-cultural understanding and respect through increased interactive learning opportunities.

“Providing more equal access to authentic, rich, second-language learning will help build stronger connections, deepen respect for New Brunswick’s cultures, and bolster cultural diversity,” said Cardy. “We hope that, by adopting these recommendations, we can nurture a bilingual population and ensure our students are well equipped for the workforce.”

Ensuring every student graduates with conversational proficiency is a commitment outlined in Succeeding at Home: A green paper on education in New Brunswick, which supports the 10-year education plans. Building a world-class education system to ensure students can reach their full potential is a government priority.