The proponents of the proposal think that it is possible to provide a language immersion program for French-Spanish-German-Mandarin and they want to establish the first one in north Scarborough as early as in fall 2015. They are thinking that this would be a portal to the languages of the economic superpowers of the world at the time when children are at their prime to master these languages.
Majority of the residents of Toronto speak English, which is the dominant language in the city. Other significant languages according to Statistics Canada are Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese Greek, Vietnamese, Korean, Gujarati, Polish, Russian, Persian, Portuguese, Tamil, Urdu, Filipino, Spanish, Punjabi and Italian. Only about 1.2 percent of the population in Toronto speak French, which is an official language in Canada.
Michael Del Grande, the TCDSB chairperson said that they are preparing the students not for the world stage but would like the parents to view the proposal as educating their children in the languages spoken by some of the world’s largest economies. Since they are very isolated in Canada, he is thinking that the proposal will be somewhat of a trailblazer, and was thinking that they could possibly teach health in Mandarin or geography in French or possibly math in German.
Del Grande calls his proposal a European-style multilingual program and wants it to be offered in the former St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic School. He added that if there would be enough parents of pre-schoolers who would be willing to enroll their children either in September this year or the next, the program will be launched in the kindergarten level and will grow it year by year. The proposed school has a capacity to house 259 students.
It would be a French immersion school, which will also be teaching in German and Spanish and if parents agree to a half-day extension, then instructions in Mandarin would be added.
The TCDSB’s associate director for academics, Gary Poole said that they have posted the survey on their website and gave a deadline of May 15 for parents to signify their interest in the proposal. They would need the consent of the parents of 75 kindergarten pupils for the board to launch the program. Poole added that this proposal was influenced by what is happening in Europe. As of now parents who live in highly urbanized communities view language as opening up future chances for commerce. Poole said that the program is aimed at children who do not speak these languages.
The TCDSB has 49 elementary schools in their system with a school day extended by 30 minutes to give time for the compulsory daily lessons in several languages. What they intend to do is to harness the potential of the much younger children who would be able to learn even four languages at the same time and retain what they have learned into adulthood.