November 23, 2009. With a grant of $122,000 for a CCDMD (Centre collégial de développement de matériel pédagogique) project, Vanier College is leading the way to improving the French language skills of English Cegep Nursing Program graduates.

“The difficulty for many students is passing the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) French proficiency exam,” says project coordinator Yung Truong of the Vanier French Department. “Only students who did not obtain their high school leaving certificate in Québec must write the exam but it’s a difficult exam, and many fail.”

Yung Truong has been working with the Nursing program to produce French courses specially tailored for Nursing students. These are French courses that are part of their regular DEC program but with terms and vocabulary useful to students in health care programs such as Nursing and Respiratory and Anaesthesia Technology.

In addition to Vanier’s Yung Truong who is the Coordinator, the project’s Inter Cegep committee consists of Catherine Duranleau, Christian Paré and Suzanne Tremblay who are French teachers from Vanier College, Dawson College and John Abbott College, as well as Veronica Gill from the CCDMD.

“We have experience in adjusting French courses to address the specific needs of weak students. We have a framework for redesigning courses. We have recently opened four new sections of a course that give students an extra sixty hours of French classes to upgrade their skills,” indicates Eric Lozowy, Coordinator of the Vanier French Department.

As well, Yung Truong and other teachers involved in the project have already started to research what resources currently exist to help professionals improve their French. “Many resources exist,” says Yung Truong, “but are not known or have not been centralized. For example, the Québec Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities already has helpful teaching materials, and McGill University has developed material for advanced and intermediate students, but there is still a lack of material for weaker students.”

The first step in the new CCDMD project is to develop a plan of action. The committee should be able to start creating new teaching materials as early as next semester.

“The ultimate goal of the project is to help students gain the necessary French skills to pass the OQLF exam, find a job within their area of expertise, work well, and function fully within Québec society,” says Eric Lozowy. “English Cegeps are an essential part of Québec society and this kind of project increases the unity between the different communities we live in and with – Francophone, Anglophone, and Allophone.”

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