CAPS-I explores promotion of French programmes

17 June, 2014

Members of the Canadian Association of Public Schools – International (CAPS-I) are considering greater promotion of French language programmes, following research into the sector that revealed untapped potential in the marketing of Canada’s bilingualism.

The research, conducted by StudentMarketing and based on survey responses of school districts/boards and 244 agents from 58 countries, provided background on the number of French speakers worldwide. It highlighted that the language is the second most widely offered foreign language globally behind English, and that demand for French-language secondary education, which, according to participating agents, accounted for 10 per cent of requests in this sector.

“Countries where French is spoken by 20 per cent or less of the population represent the best potential market for Canadian school districts looking to attract international students to their French education programmes,” said the report. “This is because the majority of the population in those countries do not speak French and, therefore, are more likely to be interested in improving their French language skills abroad.” The highest demand for French language high school programmes in Canada comes from European and Latin American countries.

Key findings of the research were that the single most significant reason high schools students choose Canada for French is the country’s bilingual environment, and that 61 per cent of international students coming to Canada to learn French are doing so as a third language.

It was recommended that within promotional strategies, Canadian public schools emphasise: the unique bilingual environment of Canada; the well-established nature of French immersion programmes; and the extra-curricular activities that are an integral part of public school education in Canada. Schools were also advised to enhance cooperation with agencies overseas in order to promote French language programmes.

Bonnie Mckie, Executive Director of CAPS-I, told Study Travel Magazine that the research had been commissioned because increasing numbers of members were offering French programmes, but some hadn’t considered formally marketing in the same way as they do for English courses. She added that the association and its members were now considering the findings and recommendations.

The research was presented by Samuel Vetrak of StudentMarketing at CAPS-I’s annual conference in Victoria, BC, last month, which McKie said was the largest to date, welcoming over 250 delegates.

Under the theme of Creating an International Vision for 21st Century Learning, the conference included a session on pathways, looking at movements between and from the K-12 secondary sector, and delegates included the Trade Commissioner from the Embassy of Chile and representatives from the Consulate General in Turkey, EduCanada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

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