Quebec's strict language laws apparently haven't prevented an English language school from teaching its students French using computer software.
Howard S. Billings Regional High School in Chateauguay, Que. has struggled to find a replacement teacher for Grade 11 French Second Language (FSL) in its alternative program, said a news release issued by the New Frontiers School Board on Wednesday.
Therefore, it has turned to popular language-learning software Rosetta Stone to supplement the French curriculum being offered by other teachers who are pitching in for the program.
"While the teachers are not FSL teachers, they are legally qualified and certified," the release said. "Rosetta Stone is used in many schools to support the learning of a second language."
The school's alternative program is aimed at students who "may find a regular classroom setting not conducive to their learning style," the school board added.
A description of the Directions Alternative School on its website states that the program tries to educate students by "redirecting their at-risk behaviours" and helping them tackle their learning difficulties head-on.
The course has been without an FSL teacher for three months due to three parental leaves, The Montreal Gazette reported.
A fourth teacher did not pan out, said CTV News.
And at least one mother is concerned that her son may not pass the provincial exam.
Nancy Landrigan told CTV Montreal that her son, Andrew Gagnon, came home without any French homework some weeks back. Asked what was going on, he said he didn't have a French teacher.
"According to the Education Act, they are supposed to have a minimum ... of 100 hours of French language education," Landrigan told the network. "If I look in that Rosetta Stone program since the beginning of December ... the maximum that any kid in that class has had on Rosetta Stone was five hours."
The Education Act suggests that students at the Secondary IV and V levels in Quebec (the equivalent of grades 10 and 11) do 100 hours, or four credits' worth of French as a second language each year when they attend English-language schools.
The province has a charter establishing French as Quebec's official language in areas such as education, government and the workplace. Under the charter, students can only go to English-language school if they meet a number of conditions.
For example, the student must have a parent who's a Canadian citizen and who did most of their elementary education in the English language.
The New Frontiers School Board is reassuring parents that students will have the full 100 hours of instruction and "be prepared for final exams." It has invited parents and students in the alternative program to a Wednesday night meeting so they can learn more about the current situation.
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