The Foothills School Division is moving ahead with a plan to provide second language classes for every elementary school student, from Grade 4 to 6, by 2020.

Acting Superintendent Pam Rannelli says while they have French Immersion they also know all kids benefit from second language instruction.

"In Foothills we have French Immersion both in Okotoks and in High River," said Rannelli. "But we also know that all kids benefit from second language instruction."

She adds research show learning a second language can support cognitive and literacy development.

"We knew we had some some work to do to really make our second language programs robust. The best program we could support was French, because we have our French services facilitator Leslie Doell."

Doell helped the division build an implementation plan.

Rannelli adds they are starting with French but will look at other languages in the future.

"We figure if we start with some really strong French programs in four to six, that will carry all the way through."

Spanish though is a popular choice in junior high and Stoney is also being considered in schools with a high First Nations population.

One of the hurdles for the program is having enough staff, especially in small rural schools.

"That is where we knew we had to target, that and find the right people and develop good training programs. So that is the journey we are on. Our hope is by 2020 we have really strong French as a second language in all of our elementaries for sure."

"Learning a second language does strengthen your literacy in your first language."

 

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