The French Ministry of Education supports and regulates the language immersion model


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It indicates in a circular that it is possible to teach in the regional languages ​​and respect the Constitution. It emphasizes that bilingualism contributes to the development of students’ intellectual, linguistic and cultural capacities, “without prejudice to the final objective of a good command of both languages”.

The French Ministry of Education considers the immersion model valid and “feasible”. It has published a circular in its Official Gazette today in which it states that it is possible for the French State to offer education in minority or regional languages, while respecting the decision of the Constitutional Council of May.

On May 21, the French Constitutional Council partially rejected the law for the protection and promotion of minority languages ​​approved by the National Assembly on April 8. Specifically, the Constitutional Council considered that articles 4 and 9 of the law were contrary to article 2 of the French Constitution (French is the only language of the French Republic).

Consequently, the model of immersion of minority languages ​​was out of the law and declared unconstitutional the ikastolas, as well as other centers and models of exclusive use of the regional language.

Today, in an eight-page document, the Ministry details the objectives, conditions and limits of the immersion model. The tone is totally in favor of bilingualism and the promotion and defense of regional languages, provided that the same level of knowledge of French and the minority language is guaranteed. Not surprisingly, they have explained that the immersion model is “a feasible strategy” for bilingual education.

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Not only that, it underlines that the bilingual teaching of French and the regional language contributes to developing the intellectual, linguistic and cultural capacities of students, “without prejudice to the final objective of a good command of each of the two languages ​​learned”.

The objective is guarantee the equivalent command of French and the regional language from kindergarten to high school. However, the time dedicated to each language may vary depending on the needs or the educational project of the center, since each center will decide the fit of the model in its training project.

Of course, the immersion model will be optional for students and it will be the legal representatives who must decide the center in which they are enrolled. For this, the centers must make available to families all the information related to the educational model of the center, so that they can make an informed decision.

The Ministry has also explained, in addition, that students who come from the bilingual model they will be able to carry out some tests of the Baxo (equivalent to selectivity) in the regional language, although it has not specified what they would be.

Likewise, the French Government has announced the creation of a Higher Council for Languages, a national body that will aim to “reflect, consult and promote the teaching of modern foreign and regional languages ​​and ancient languages.”

This circular demonstrates the political will of the French Government to open the way to minority languages ​​in education, but it does not completely change the situation, since the circular route is the route with the least legislative force. It can serve to alleviate some administrative issues, however, the agents consider that the constitutional reform will be necessary to promote a model of immersion and real bilingualism.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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