Wendy Carr has always enjoyed teaching French, as a classroom teacher, as a workshop presenter, and as a UBC course instructor. She has developed methodology courses, written provincial curricula, and co-authored several French teaching resources used by teachers across Canada (Visages, Making Connections, Échos, Échos Pro). She is past president of the BC Association of Teachers of Modern Languages and current vice-president of the Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers. She advocated for the inclusion of a French methodology course for all UBC elementary and middle years teacher candidates and created the FLAGS (French Language and Global Studies) cohort in 2007 in order to develop teachers who can teach in Core French contexts. Unlike the French Specialist cohorts that are generally oriented to teaching French Immersion or secondary French classes, FLAGS is oriented to Core French at the Grade 5 to 7 level, which is where the vast majority of Canadian children learn French (about 85-90% compared to 10% in Immersion). In British Columbia, one third of all students — about 187,000 — take Core French. Core French is taught as a subject like Math or Social Studies or Art and most often by generalist teachers who do not necessarily feel comfortable speaking French.
In a 2007 study involving over 800 BC Core French teachers, the results confirmed what Wendy had known from years of working with teachers through workshops and courses: 70-80% of the teachers polled described a lack of ease in teaching French due to insufficient background and proficiency. Part of this is due to the fact that they themselves had a less than positive experience in their early years of learning French and so did not continue in high school where they might have been inspired by specialist teachers passionate about learning a second language. Part of this is due to the lack of methodological preparation in teacher education programs, but this changed with the inclusion of a French methods course in the revised BEd program in 2012.
With everything we know about the value of learning other languages — cognitive development, career options, social mobility, intercultural understanding and more — it seems a missed opportunity not to provide the very best French second language education for our children. Many English Language Learners (ELLs) also benefit from learning French as an additional language. Many appreciate the advantages of learning both of Canada’s official languages, and they already possess advanced language learning skills from having learned English. Wendy has conducted research on ELLs in BC French classrooms in Surrey and Vancouver and published several articles and chapters.
Community partners include students, schools, teacher candidates, district teachers, universities, and conference associations.
Carr, W. (2013). Learning French in British Columbia: English as additional language learner and parent perspectives. In K. Arnett & C. Mady (Eds.) Minority populations in Canadian second language education. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Carr, W. (2010). Raising FLAGS: Renewing core French at the pre-service teacher level. Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 13(1), 37-57.
Carr, W. (2009). Intensive French in British Columbia: Student and parent perspectives and English as additional language (EAL) student performance. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 65(5), 787-815.
Mady, C., & Carr, W. (2011). Immigrant perspectives on French language learning in English-dominant Canadian communities. In C. Varcasia (Ed.) Becoming multilingual. Language learning and language policy between attitudes and identities (pp. 195-216). Bern, DE: Peter Lang.