For decades, students have taken advantage of the opportunity to learn French and Spanish at Red Deer College.
This experience has increased their practical communication skills and therefore their employability, and has also broadened their horizons and their ability to embrace and understand cultures other than their own.
On April 29, it was announced that French and Spanish would be cut entirely from Red Deer College’s course offerings, effective immediately. Prior to this decision, French and Spanish were the only languages other than English offered at Red Deer College.
The reasons given for the cuts were a reduction in funding from the provincial government, coupled with low enrolment.
Class sizes in French and Spanish (at various levels) at the end of the winter 2015 semester ranged between 10 and 23 students.
While these language classes are too small in the eyes of administrators, they are an excellent size from a learning point of view and have resulted in great success for these students. Indeed, smaller class sizes are a big part of what attracts students to Red Deer College.
Enrolments in disciplines such as second languages typically ebb and flow over time. These numbers would rebound in future if given a chance.
Roughly 100 students each semester studied French and/or Spanish at Red Deer College.
This decision means that now even more students will need to leave Red Deer in order to pursue some rather basic post-secondary educational opportunities. As a parent of elementary school children, I find that saddening and concerning.
As part of their campaign, the NDP promised to restore funding to post-secondary education. My hope is that this decision can now be reversed quickly so students can begin registering in French and Spanish courses for fall 2015. If it is not reversed now, I cannot see French and Spanish ever returning to Red Deer College.
If you are upset about this blow to French and Spanish language and culture, to second languages in general, to diversity and to educational opportunities within Central Alberta, please contact your new MLAs promptly to express your views.