You are invited to attend Kristina Chang’s Master’s presentation and thesis defense!

When: Thursday, July 28, 2022, 1-2:30pm
Where: Room 355, Friedman Building, 2177 Wesbrook Mall
Title: “Facilitators and barriers to participation of children with developmental disabilities in French immersion in Vancouver, BC: Providers’ beliefs and opinions”
Candidate: Kristina Chang
Committee: Drs. Paola Colozzo and Tami Howe


Background: In 2018-2019, over 54,000 (9.5%) K-12 students were enrolled in French immersion (FI) in British Columbia. While parents of students with or without developmental disabilities (DD; e.g., autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, and developmental language disorder) may wish for their child to participate in FI, very little research has been conducted on the former group’s experiences in the program. As a result, some children may be discouraged from participation when they have the right and potential to do so. Others may enroll only to withdraw later, finding that their needs are best fulfilled elsewhere.

 Method: This study used a qualitative descriptive research design to understand, from education and healthcare providers’ perspectives, what helps and hinders the participation of children with DD in FI. Fourteen interview transcripts from professionals with at least five years of experience working with students with DD in the Vancouver region were coded using qualitative content analysis..

 Results: Facilitators and barriers at many levels were identified: child, family, provider, school, community, and system. In addition, combinations of factors were found to create supportive or hindering conditions (e.g., a child who already knows some French and can access appropriate school resources). Furthermore, some factors were presented as potential mediators (e.g., FI generally deemed not an ideal choice for children with DD unless French was spoken at home).

 Conclusion: This study adds to the sparse existing literature by providing in depth analysis of the the beliefs and opinions of a group of providers with direct experience working with children with DD for whom FI may have been considered as an educational option. Results offer insight into factors that may be useful to consider when counselling families of prospective students with DD interested in enrolling in FI, and underscore that factors often combine and interact to create supportive or hindering conditions.