Fredericton — In an effort to address the ongoing controversy surrounding French language training in the anglophone schools, the government of New Brunswick has announced plans to replace the current French immersion model with Duolingo subscriptions for all students starting in September.
Duolingo is an online language learning app that is widely used by people seeking broader knowledge in a wide variety of languages, with nearly 50 million active users worldwide.
The government had previously planned to replace French immersion programming with a 50/50 English/French program for all anglophone students in September. The proposal was met with resistance from families of French immersion students who were insulted by the reduction in French education as well as families of English core students who didn’t think the increased French education was necessary for their children.
The resistance prompted the government to rethink their strategy and resulted in a program based entirely around the online learning app.
“At one of our consultations sessions, a parent shouted that their child would have a better chance of learning French from Duolingo than from the public education system’s proposed plan,” said Bill Hogan, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. “I want to let you know that I listened to your concerns and government has agreed that this is indeed the best way to deliver French language education.
“I have been on the app and it is really quite enjoyable,” the minister stated. “If I do really well, an adorable little owl pops up and encourages me on my success.”
“An unexpected benefit of this plan is we no longer need to hire more teachers,” added John McLaughlin, Deputy Minister. “We don’t even need a teacher in the room at all! Anybody can supervise these kids as they navigate the program on their phones by themselves.”
Under the program, students will be graded based on their progression through the app. Students in Grade 1 are expected to complete the first 20 units on the app, while high school graduates are expected to complete all 198 units to be eligible for graduation.
The minister also added that students have the option of learning languages other than French with their subscription and expects an increase in students speaking Romanian, Latin and High Valyrian in the schoolyards.