Margaret Wente of the Globe & Mail dares to ask this question, “Why is F.I. so popular?” and proceeds to give the real reason why parents are lining up to enrol their children in F.I. The main reason is that our public schools are a failure - mainly because of discipline problems as they are forced to accommodate ALL types of students. F.I. schools can pick and choose their students and usually the excuse for eliminating students is that they are unable to cope with the French-language curriculum. In this way, they can eliminate children with learning problems, disability of one sort or another, children with behavioural problems, etc. etc. These “troublesome” sorts are forced on the regular English schools which creates a very difficult position for the teachers.
F.I. schools on the other hand, are left with the well-behaved children and the school environment is more conducive to learning. Their class-sizes are usually also smaller.
Does this create a form of “streaming” where the kids are segregated from each other according to their ability? YES!
Did they find that the “brighter” kids generally came from “better” homes where parents cared about their children and how well they did in school? YES!
Did this became “frowned” upon as “elitism” because the Socialists said that this was not a good reflection of society and worked against creating citizens who have to learn to live with each other? YES!
So “streaming” was banned and schools became institutions where children of different social classes learnt to live and work together.
Unfortunately, this obnoxious philosophy has come back in full force with the introduction of French Immersion where children are segregated according to their ability to cope with French.
Whether F.I. has produced better educated children is quite a different question - are they able to become better mathematicians, better scientists, etc. because they can function in French? Are their English comprehension, reading & writing skills better than those graduating from English schools (with one class in French as a subject) - after all is said and done, most of Canada and the world still functions primarily in English!!
Yes, the chances of a bilingual (English/French) graduate are better when it comes to getting jobs in the public service and increasingly also in the private sector. But is this because our governments (all levels) are still so beholden to the Trudeau agenda of reversing the result of the Plains of Abraham by instituting a policy that would give the French language and culture a decided advantage? I must admit it is working very well - all our top level bureaucrats are mainly French-speakers first and the proportion of French-speakers in the public service decidedly much higher than their proportion in the population. Follow this link
After over 40 years of this policy and billions of taxpayer dollars, are the percentage of citizens who are bilingual any higher? Not really!! It has stayed at about 17% for decades and most of them are French-speakers to begin with.
Are there advantages to learning languages? Of course there are - nobody can deny that. If you are a natural linguist, learning different languages come easily. You can use your linguistic skills while you’re travelling and interacting with different people.
However, we’re talking about a government policy that gives a small group of people an advantage that they are born with and we are discriminating against the majority!!! Is this democracy? It certainly is Jean Chretien’s belief that “Democracy is looking after the needs of the minority” - this is shared by most Liberals and NDPers!! But to look after the minority at the expense of the majority - that’s quite a different matter!!!
Margaret Wente has taken a lot of criticisms for this article - some of them down-right vicious!!! Most of the comments (I read them all) are against her for questioning this elitist trend - as the G&M is mainly read by the left-wingers, I shouldn’t be surprised.
I’m also glad to see that there are a few supportive comments from those Canadians who see this as a failed social-engineering policy, costing far more than it’s worth (after all, as a unity instrument, it has failed totally - Quebec is still very separatist and very anti-English to boot) and creating second-class citizens out of the majority English-speakers. This is such a tragedy!!!
I will reproduce below the article two comments that I found very encouraging. If you want to send me one or two of your favourite, please send it to me. The email that comes with this message is not working very well.
It's snobbery on the part of the parents, as there's very little practical need for bilingualism unless, as Wente says, you live in Quebec, New Brunswick, or want a job in the federal public service. Ironically, as the French language continues to decline in both the number of people who speak it as their mother tongue and in its relevance and importance, English-Canadian parents can't get their precious offspring into French immersion fast enough. Also ironic is how there are fewer French kids in Quebec who can speak passable English today than ever before, yet the Liberal government in Ontario is wasting scarce public resources by running TV ads promoting French immersion programs. If French-Canadians want to preserve their language in their private lives, at their own expense of course (not taxpayers across Canada), fine and dandy. But, the language of public communication in Canada, including Quebec, should always be English, as it is by far the most practical and important global language.
As the old axiom goes: "one cannot serve two masters at the same time". Remind me again who won the Battle of the Plains of Abraham? Because, if I didn't know better, I'd swear it was the French. If anybody has been committing cultural genocide, it's English Canadians, since we've allowed Trudeau's multiculturalism and bilingualism to grow way out of proportion to their need of functional utility. It constantly perplexes me that while Quebec has gone out of its way to marginalize and ignore the significant historical presence and role of its English-speaking community, at the same time we dummies in the rest of Canada have been bending over backwards pandering to a language and people who've been consistently declining in importance and influence.
If Quebec ever does secede and form its own country and what remains of Canada is absorbed into the United States, we English-Canadian will only have ourselves to blame, because in our desire to be "fair, equitable, inclusive, diverse" and all that other nonsense to every whining minority group, we've willingly abandoned all sense of ourselves as a people. Thank you Pierre Trudeau and the rest of the meddlesome social engineers and to passive, naive liberal English-Canadians who just sat back and gave their country away.
10:54 AM on February 5, 2013
Unless your child plans to go into federal politics or work for the federal government, being fluent in French is a complete waste of time. I know because after being in private industry for just under 20 years, I've yet to use French ( My mother's people back in Moncton, N.B. are French-speaking Acadians). On the other hand, I do use Mandarin frequently because the company I work for in Toronto has a satellite engineering office in mainland China.
As I noted in a post last week on this topic, provincial edu-crats don't have a clue about what private employers need in the workplace. With Canadian trade increasing exponentially each year with the PRC, you would think that these people would start implementing Mandarin immersion classes in their jurisdictions. But, this is Canada where politics trumps logic 10 times out of 10.
If you already don't know this: Chinese is the world's oldest written language; it's also spoken by the most people (I always thought that English was). China is on its way to becoming a superpower while Quebec and France are nations/countries on the decline. For an interesting article at the BBC on the benefits of learning a second language go the Google and type in the following, including the quotes: "Chinese takes more brainpower". (just another reason for not learning French).
I hope that I haven't hurt anybody's feeling over at the office of the Official Languages commissioner. Tough.
Freddie Campau Jr.
8:58 AM on February 5, 2013
From Vancouver to St. John’s, the demand for French immersion has been soaring out of sight. Anxious parents camp out on the sidewalk to snag precious enrolment spots for their kids. School districts such as the sprawling Peel Region west of Toronto have been forced to introduce a lottery system. About 12 years ago, just 10 per cent of the region’s Grade 1 students were enrolled in French immersion. Today it’s 25 per cent.
What’s driving the demand? Is it the Trudeau generation, who want to pass along our bilingual heritage to their kids?
Er, no. The main allure of French immersion is that it provides all the benefits of a private school without the tuition costs (or so parents hope). They’ve heard about those brain-science studies that say bilingualism confers important cognitive benefits. If that’s true, then depriving your child of French immersion is practically child abuse.
Parents who are ambitious for their children use French immersion as a form of streaming. Their kids do very well in school - not because they’re learning French, but because they’d do well anywhere. These are the same kids who started out in Montessori school. Their parents know that peer groups matter and that French-immersion classes are full of other bright, accomplished children. There are very few children with behavioural problems, special-education or ESL students in French immersion (although it’s worth noting that the craze has spread to affluent immigrant parents). French immersion is also a way to get the benefits of a top public school even if you can’t afford to live near one.
But if you actually expect your child to wind up speaking fluent French, you might be disappointed. Attrition rates are high, and language proficiency is surprisingly low. Some parents are dismayed because their kids don’t become proficient in either language. Some of them struggle in science and math. And after graduation, many of them never use their French again. Why would they? They don’t need it unless they live in Quebec or New Brunswick. “After 13 years in French immersion, my son has no interest in speaking it,” one mother told me.
None of this should come as a surprise. Bilingualism isn’t easy, and unless you are immersed in another language outside of school, you may never become fluent. Also, French-immersion teachers are in extremely short supply, and not all of them are competent.
But any rational analysis of French immersion is almost impossible to find. And the response of school systems to these practical problems has been to deny them. Instead of supporting a few excellent programs, school systems across Canada have scrambled to expand them and water them down. They often offer immersion programs that begin in kindergarten or Grade 1, not because kids need instruction at such an early age to become proficient (they don’t), but because parents demand it. When New Brunswick decided to cancel French immersion in the early grades a few years ago, activist parents all but rioted in the streets.They even took the government to court.
“It’s all about the parents,” says Jim Croll, co-author of the report that recommended the change. Naturally, every parent wants what’s best for their children. But there’s only so much money to go around. What happens when some parents are more vocal than others? Mr. Croll says, “We are shortchanging a great number of our kids for our own social reasons.”
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French School Gets Cash For More Space, French Public Board Sees Continued Rise In Enrolment
Funds are also being allocated to build a new elementary school in Riverside South. The two projects will total $13 million and will deal with a steady increase of students moving to the French public board.
EMC news - The French public school board for eastern Ontario got a cash infusion on Jan. 17 that will see an expansion at a Barrhaven school.
Michaëlle Jean French public elementary school in Barrhaven is bursting at the seams. When the school opened in 2007, there were only 150 children, and now there are more than 500 said principal Martine Charbonneau.
The province announced that it will fund the construction of an additional 14-classroom module to add more student capacity. Construction is set to begin in March. Funds are also being allocated to build a new elementary school in Riverside South. The two projects will total $13 million and will deal with a steady increase of students moving to the French public board.
"We would like to thank the parents for their passion in advocating to secure this funding," said Denis Chartrand, a vice-president with the board. He added that once schools are built they will quickly fill up as students move from immersion programs. The board has experienced a 4.5 per cent growth in student enrolment over the past year, which Chartrand said he owes to Ontario parents understanding the importance of bilingualism.
There are currently 14 portables at Michaëlle Jean school, and there will still be some even after the expansion is complete.Area trustee Linda Savard said the school will probably cap enrolment at 600 before the board pushes to add another school in the Barrhaven area.
"We don't want to make it too big because then the demographic could change and we will need a high school," she said. "We wouldn't want to have an elementary school with empty classrooms." Savard said good planning and the upswing in demand for a francophone education have been good things for the board.
The new school in Riverside South is expected to open in 2016 and will offer junior kindergarten to Grade 6 classes. Madeleine Meilleur, the provincial minister responsible for francophone affairs said the funds will provide safe and modern places for Ontario students to learn.
"I am pleased that the students and families in Riverside South and at Michaëlle Jean public school will benefit from our investments aimed at providing better school buildings," she said. "We know that when students are in good learning environments they can focus on their learning."
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