On February 1, 2016 I was told I was no longer allowed to pursue my studies in my desired program. I was never placed on academic probation, I always went to class, I always handed in my assignments on time, and I always followed the universities rules and politics. Let me explain to you why this happened.
In the second semester of my graduating year of high school, I chose to attend Université de Moncton in order to get a teaching degree in my second language so that I could teach a subject (math, science, social studies etc) in the French immersion program for the Anglophone school district in the province of New Brunswick. I was accepted shortly after applying and was asked to perform a phone interview to assure I was competent in the language in order to succeed at this university. I passed the test and was officially accepted into the Groupe Pont program. Groupe Pont is a program for Anglophone students looking to study in their second language. It helps to prepare and integrate us into the community and develop the necessary skills in order to proceed to study in our desired program.
We had received several visits from recruiters of the university during our time at RHS. They would come in hand out brochures and flyers and convince us that we were good enough to pursue our studies in a Francophone university despite ever having heard us speak. The program had been promoted by the school for years, but little did the school know, students were dropping like flies.
At the end of my first year, after passing all of my four French courses with one B and three B+, I applied to officially transfer into the Faculty of Education to study Primary Education. I was accepted and was set to begin my journey in the fall. Around late September of the fall semester of my second year, I was told I would need to take a French language competency test in January and if by my third try, I did not receive a 76% in all 9 tasks of the test, I would be asked to leave the faculty. All of my fellow colleagues who were French first language, were made aware of this test on the during the first few weeks of their first year and had a year and a half to prepare for this test. I on the other hand, along with the rest of my Anglophone colleagues, had a few months.
The difficulties of being an Anglophone in a francophone university began to settle in as I knew they eventually would. I had only ever followed the French immersion program at school and was just getting accustomed to life at a francophone university. I learned many of the grammar rules in my first year of university and had far less exposure to the language than that of my francophone colleagues. I am not saying that I did not learn any grammar rules in public school, because I did, I am saying that many of the rules taught were concepts that were not taught in depth in the immersion program. I decided to not let the test get me down, everyone in previous years had passed so I took on the challenge despite the fact that I only learned the majority of the grammar rules just a few short months before.
The only resources given to us to study were online exercises. Two exercises per task. So I did them over and over and studied the grammar rules I learned in my French classes of my first year. I reviewed all of my french notes, searched for additional exercices online and looked up many grammar rules that were unclear to me. I could not afford a tutor. I took the test and only passed 4 tasks. I was very disappointed but nevertheless, continued to be motivated, assuming that my university would supply me with the necessary tools to succeed.
I was very wrong. They gave us one tutor for the dozens of students who had to re-write the test. We were lucky to get 5 minutes of one on one time with her because there were so many of us and just one tutor. I continued doing the online practice tests, studying my grammar rules and even went to the on-campus French center. However, when I went to the center, I was basically told that it is too hard for francophones to help Anglophones with their French but that I could bring in my essays to be corrected. I already had someone at my disposal for this so I figured this center was not the right fit for me.
I continued to practice and study and I wrote my second attempt in the fall. This time I passed all but two tasks. Now I knew I could do it. I only had two tasks and I was pretty close to the passing rate. However, this time, we only had three months to prepare for our last try on January 8th.
I went in to write the test, extremely nervous just like the 37 other students set to write. I could not eat that morning because my stomach was in knots and many people did not sleep the night before due to nerves. We waited over three weeks for our results. Little did we know, they had known our results for a week before they decided to inform us. An entire week. If they would have told us early enough, we could have changed courses, programs, or even universities. But it was too late, and now we are all stuck in the same situation. We can finish our semester and gain useless credits, or quit university and receive one semesters worth of reimbursement.
I am deeply saddened and frustrated by the actions they chose and with the way they handled the situation. They took a week to try to figure out how they would tell us. 18 students failed of the 38 who wrote it and that does not look so good on their behalf because they clearly did not do their job as a post-secondary institution – which is to educate the students who pay thousands of dollars to attend.
I understand that rules are rules, however, I disagree with what they have done. As an Anglophone student who chose to study at a francophone university because of all of the advertising that is done to show how much help and support is supposed to be given to us, I truly believe they have failed to educate me in an appropriate manner. I do not wish to ask for a fourth try on the test, nor do I wish to be readmitted into my faculty. I am well aware that I will need to start from scratch if I go to another university, which is what I have to do. Since more than half of my credits will not be transferable, I have lost a year of studying. I am thankful for the experience and knowledge I have gained, however, I am disappointed that I will have to spend even more money on my education.
Money isn’t the only thing this world revolves around, but for a student who is paying her own tuition, working two to three jobs is a must in order to pursue my studies. I hope my story gets out to the right people and that changes are made to the system. First of all, something needs to be done about the administration of this test. If it is only required for one district in all of the country, why must everyone be forced to take it? Maybe it could be an option for those students who wish to teach in that district? Secondly, I sincerely hope that changes are made to the French Immersion Program. If this program is designed to help us be competent individuals in our second language, it is not doing so. Just because we are learning a second language does not mean we only need to learn the basics. I know that I would have loved to have been more challenged in my FILA classes and I wish I would have learned more.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!