Seminar : Franch-English bilingual education in Australia
Bilingual education in Australia benefits to everyone, australian and French children, french-speaking students and families interested and fond of the French culture. This education has steadily expanded across Australia, including in local public schools. In this context, The seminar on bilingual education, organised by the Embassy of France at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra on 15 and 16 March 2022, gathered around 75 participants, including half of them in person and the other half online.
These participants were mostly both Australian and French representatives of the AAFEBS network schools (Australian Association of Franco-English Bilingual Schools), but also representatives of the Departments of Education and Training (DET) from différent states, representatives of parents associations, of Alliances Françaises, of teachers associations, of schools intending to join the network, as well as academics and other experts of the educative field.
The program, that covered a broad variety of aspects of bilingual education, allowed in a first time to remind the crucial role of bilinguism. After an introductory speech by His Excellency the Ambassador Mr Thebault, Pr Jim Watterston from the University of Melbourne drew the lines of bilinguism in Australia, and reminded us the importance of developing it, in partnership with the different stakeholders of the network. The Agency for French teaching abroad, AEFE, also presented the conditions of the support it provides to the schools of its network, as well as the specificities of the Australian case. Schools with different status within the AEFE then illustrated the explanations with their own examples.
Then the seminar aimed at reminding the role of the AAFEBS network in promoting French language. Teachers associations, including the Federation of Associations of Teachers of French in Australia (FATFA), were also present. This second part was also the opportunity to highlight the different stakeholders that the bilingual teaching netwrok could collaborate with in the future : universities and especially international exchange programs, Alliances Françaises, and finally francophones regions in the Pacific. This part, taking place both in person and online (pre-recorded videos and Zoom), was animated by representatives of New Caledonia and representatives of the Reunion island.
Finally, the last part of the seminar, taking place on the day after, was dedicated to more technical subjects regarding the creation of bilingual programs. How to evaluate the feasibility of the project based on the available resources and the context ? How to develop and sustain such a program, taking into account the local specificities and the existence of the anglophone programs that are already in place in most schools welcoming a French stream ? How to harmonise practices, including level tests and exams, in order to have a good recognition of the quality of bilingual programs in Australia ? Different schools shared their viewpoints and practices on each subject.
Finally, the participants were also invited to the Francophonie party taking place at the Embassy of France on the 15th of March.
Enfin, les participants au séminaire étaient aussi conviés à la soirée Francophonie qui s’est tenue à l’ambassade de France le 15 mars.