This year, the University of Ottawa’s French immersion studies department has something to celebrate. June 2010 marked the graduation of the first cohort of students to have completed a full four-year degree in the French immersion stream. Fifty-eight students have completed their undergraduate studies with a mention of French immersion on their diploma.
Since its creation in 2006, the University of Ottawa’s French immersion studies stream has continued to grow and has attracted lots of attention. It has received over 7,000 applications to date and has over 1,100 students presently enrolled. The adaptive structure of this academic option is unlike anything offered at other Canadian universities. Anglophone students from all over are benefiting from the unique bilingual environment of our campus and city by further developing their second-language skills. These students have many different levels of French from high school and represent a variety of backgrounds and linguistic competencies. By deciding to pursue their university degree here, they can integrate both languages into their student experience; they can expand their knowledge in a chosen field of study while developing their bilingualism beyond the typical classroom setting. This is an option that only the University of Ottawa can offer.
With 58 undergraduate programs from a variety of faculties and disciplines, French immersion is open to a wide array of students. The progression of each student is tailored to his or her personal linguistic goals. Students can decide how to best integrate the required number of immersion courses into their schedule based on their comfort level and ambition. The key to their success is in uOttawa’s immersion courses, which were first developed in the 1980s. By selecting designated subject courses taught in French, students can also register for an accompanying language class that directly supports the subject course. A language professor attends the subject course along with the immersion students and then adapts the content of the language class accordingly. Students earn credits for both courses and are ensured a better understanding of the terms and concepts being taught in their second language; it’s a win-win situation. This unique recipe for learning has been so successful that many of our immersion students are getting better grades in their classes taught in French than those in English!
For students worried that the language of instruction will affect their GPA, the University offers additional support. Immersion students can choose a limited number of courses taught in French for which they are granted a qualitative grade instead of a letter grade. To ensure that students achieve success, other on-campus assistance is available such as mentoring centres, writing-help programs and the choice to write exams and essays in either official language. Students gain confidence and continuously improve their language skills. As they progress, they move on to more advanced courses offered in French in their field of study.
This innovative approach to university studies allows students to benefit from the language skills they have worked so hard on and get an edge on the job market. Having completed the French immersion requirements along with their program of study, this year’s graduates will be functionally bilingual and will benefit from better employment opportunities.
BRAVO aux finissants 2010!