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New program set to begin in fall

Photo by Tina Wallace

The University of Ottawa will offer a master’s in bilingualism studies program beginning in September 2014, in an effort to promote the bilingual and Francophone presence on campus. 

According to the university, it is the first of its kind in Canada, and will be offered by the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI). The program was first announced in 2012, but it needed funding before being officially launched.

In an official statement, U of O president Allan Rock said the new graduate program is “an example of how we are expanding and diversifying our program offerings to improve the quality of the student experience and strengthen our commitment to bilingualism and Francophone communities.”

According to OLBI graduate studies director Tahereh Sima Paribakht, the program is a step toward Rock’s Vision 2020 to have a third of the student body be Francophone students.

“The goal really was to create the graduate program and also to strengthen research and innovation and outreach efforts in both official languages,” Paribakht said.

“We are targeting bilingual students and the program is unique in the range and composition of courses that it will be offering,” she added.

Professors from various departments, including sociology and political science, will be teaching courses about issues surrounding bilingualism, the use of technology in second language teaching, assessment of second language competence, and more.

The program will offer an equal number of courses in both English and French. Each student will be required to take one of two compulsory courses in French and one in English.

The program is currently accepting applications and has the same admissions requirements as any other master’s program.

Nicole Desnoyers, vp equity of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, said at the election debates Feb. 4 that the U of O campus should be a truly bilingual campus, not English with a French translation.

Rock’s administration has been working to equalize the number of French and English students on campus and to promote bilingualism.