Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Does Bilingualism Pay?

If you're any sort of a Canadian, you probably know by now that Quebec's Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada's first gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

You won't find a more fitting candidate for what Canadians across the country perceive as the epitome of a perfect athletic role model.
I'm sure you saw the medal ceremony and caught one of the numerous and obligatory interviews that he gave in both English and French.  It was hard not to feel wonderful for this attractive, humble, patriotic young man who's loyalty to his brother, struck by cerebral palsy, is inspiring.

As I watched the 22-year-old Rosemere native comfortably breeze through his interview in English, it occurred to me that marketing executives across the country must be salivating at the thought of having him represent whatever national interest they represent.

What an incredible package! Even his French accent was extremely pleasing to the Anglophone ear.

No doubt Canada would have been equally proud of his efforts had he had to speak through an interpertor, but he didn't.

Millions of dollars of endorsements lie before him. He will be as much in demand in Red Deer as he will be in Quebec City.

Lucrative speaking engagements, personal appearances, commercials and product endorsements await this young man. There's no doubt that speaking English well, will make a more attractive and valuable marketing product.

To Louise Harel, the Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste and all those language nationalists who have been telling Quebeckers that while it's nice to speak a foreign language, it is not necessary, Alexandre is living proof that it is just not true.

For these nationalists it must have been agonizing to see him wearing the Canadian red maple leaf jacket with a gold medal hanging from his neck. His message didn't waver between English and French interviews. "I'm  proud to be a member of this Canadian team!"

What's a Canadian Gold Medal athlete worth in endorsement?

French speaking    = $$
English speaking   = $$$$$$
Bilingual                = $$$$$$$$$$$$$

Does bilingualism pay? Ask Alex in a couple of years, though it's obvious he already knows. His mastery of English proves it.


  1. Louise Harel says that because her own English sucks. It is OBVIOUS that being bilingual is a must nowadays. Even knowing a third language is recommanded!

  2. Hey, another news. The first woman to win gold in Canadian soil is Maëlle Ricker from British Columbia. She is also completely bilingual.

  3. Si je regarde la légende, je ne comprends pas pourquoi l'unilingue anglophone fait plus d'argent que l'unilingue francophone ? Can you explain me that !:)

  4. What you are not able to understand ? I live in Ottawa and it's not true that I can live in french and there's more francophones (25-26 %)than anglophones in all Québec (10-12%) that can be deserve by services in their own language ? The Canada stay english and Québec become bilingual for their 10-12 % english speakers.

  5. You've got your numbers wrong. The population of francophones in Ottawa is only 14%, and the city is officially bilingual despite the relatively small population of French speakers. Gatineau/Hull is part of the National Capital Region, so it should be a bilingual city too, but it isn't.