“In the 21st century with so much internationalism, we really need to be giving all children the opportunity to learn another language,” says Fred Genesee, an expert on dual-language education in Canada at McGill University in Montreal. “We’re not talking about icing on the cake anymore. We’re talking about a life skill that actually gives these kids a real advantage.”
Canada has (the most) experience with fostering bilingual education. It started with a French immersion program in the 1960s in Montreal for English-speakers who were a minority in the French-speaking province of Quebec. The program, and its various spinoffs, has since grown country-wide into a lauded national model.
Still, French immersion has been experiencing growing pains. It is not compulsory, and where demand outstrips supply in school districts, frustration has followed.