Quebec school has no French teacher, using Rosetta Stone instead
Published Tuesday, February 24, 2015 6:45PM EST
A lack of qualified teachers at a Quebec high school has resulted in a Grade 11 class learning French from a computer program, and some parents are not happy.
Anglophone students in the Grade 11 alternative class at Howard S. Billings high school in Chateauguay, Que., say they haven’t had a French teacher for the past three months, so they’ve been using the popular language-learning software Rosetta Stone.
The school board said that’s the best it can do, after three teachers went on parental leave and a fourth teacher “didn’t work out.”
In late November, the school decided to use the Rosetta Stone program instead of a French teacher.
Student Andrew Gagnon, who says his French is not very strong, said the Rosetta Stone instructions were far below his level.
“It starts off with really easy thing, like saying ‘Bonjour,’” he told CTV Montreal, adding that his French marks have never been higher.
Gagnon’s mother said she was shocked to find out what was going on.
“At some point I said to him a few weeks ago…'I noticed you haven’t had any homework in French, are you sure everything is OK?'” Nancy Landrigan said. “And he said, ‘Oh, of course we don’t have homework, we don’t even have a teacher.
“And I was floored.”
The Rosetta Stone course is supervised by a teacher who is not a French specialist. The school said it’s doing everything it can to find a qualified instructor.
“It’s difficult, especially this time of the year,” said Rob Butters, the director-general of the New Frontiers School Board. “It’s even more difficult with an alternative type program.”
Meanwhile, Gagnon’s mother is worried that her son will fail the provincial exam.
“According to the Education Act, they are supposed to have a minimum… of 100 hours of French language education,” she said. “If I look in that Rosetta Stone program since the beginning of December… the maximum that any kid in that class has had on Rosetta Stone was five hours.”
The school board insists the students will get the required 100 hours of instruction and will be prepared for the exam.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Rob Lurie