Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bilingualism- the New Dirty Word

There was a time when being able to master the other official language was an exalted and empowering accomplishment, one that society recognized as an important personal achievement.

Quebec Anglophone parents continue to enroll their kids in French immersion classes and a substantial number of Francophone parents, whose children are denied English lessons until late in grammar school, take it upon themselves to insure that their children are given the advantage of English by switching to private schools and by sending their kids to special English language summer camps.

It's sad to see that some nationalists are now attacking bilingualism, labeling it as a dangerous first step on the slippery slope to assimilation.

The debate came to a head last month when the English media attacked mayoral candidate Louise Harel for not being bilingual, which resulted in a fierce counter-attack by nationalists who argued that her lack of English in no way diminished her attractiveness as a candidate.

Alas, they could have saved their breath, the English media was just having a bit of sport with Madame Harel, in the same vein as do the picadors, who spear the bull with lances in an effort to weaken the beast, ahead of the main event with the matador.

To Quebec anglophones and the media that speaks for them, it doesn't matter if Louis Harel is bilingual or speaks six languages, for that matter, her sovereignist views and extreme politics make her an enemy regardless of her language skills.

The fierce defense put on by her defenders was completely unnecessary, but does highlight the dangerous and dysfunctional idea being put forward by some nationalists, that learning English is unnecessary and that being unilingual is no barrier to success for Quebec Francophones.

Pierre Dubuc, the editor of Lautre'journal is the champion of this concept.
"bilingualism, the Trojan Horse of anglicisation." Pierre Dubuc, L’aut’journal.

Already, in Canada there are people whose mother tongue is French who have come to consider that English and French make up equal parts of their identity. Their language behavior, in the confines of their home is a strong illustration that this type of bilingualism is nothing but a step towards anglicisation. Pierre Debuc, writing in Le Devoir
Let's hope this idea doesn't gain too much traction. It's hard to understand how anyone can be against speaking another language.

Unfortunately, some in the francophone community, believe that learning English, especially at an early age, is dangerous because it takes time away from mastering French properly. This doctrine still permeates the French education system and remains the reason why there is a prohibition to teach English until the latter years of primary school.

Now a study out of Italy puts paid to that myth. Children who take up two languages at an early age do just fine and don't get confused or mixed up.

The current mantra of choice within nationalist circles, is that French is being systematically eroded, especially in Montreal and that the bilingualism is a threat to the French language.


It is dangerous nonsense that can only hurt those upon which this stupid doctrine is being foisted.


  1. Amongst the many parents of English-eligible students who go to French immersion classes, there is some concern that they will not get enough English in a structured way for them to master the intricacies of its grammar. Thus, the children may be functionally bilingual, but write poorly in both languages.
    Various professors of educationa psychology are doing longitudanl studies.

    But if you foloow the arcane politics of the English Montreal School Board, more and more parents want more and more French. The Lester B Pearson School Board (west isalnd) no longer has an English-stream kindergarten.

    Being able to integrate into contemporary Quebec doesn't require assimilation, but it does require a lot more exposure to language and Quebec culture than our parents (English) were exposed to.

  2. Si vous avez à coeur la langue de Molière, pouvez-vous faire circuler dans votre milieu!
    Merci à l'avance!

    Une anglicisation fulgurante en photos et vidéos
    Déjà un millier d'infractions possibles à la loi 101!
    Et ce ne sont ni des rumeurs, ni des ouï-dire, ni des peurs mal-fondées, ni des épouvantails à moineaux, ce ne sont que des faits réels.

    Allez constater sur ce site:

  3. Everyone in Quebec should learn to speak English. It's God's language.