"Attendance of English colleges by more and more allophones and francophones is an important factor in anglicization, according to a survey by the Institute for Research on French in America (IRFA) and the Centrale des Syndicats du Québec (CSQ )." L'Autre Journal.The report itself never really came to this conclusion, but left broad hints that allowed others to jump to this conclusion. Language militants as well as mainstream media, all fell into the trap and wrote article after article indicating that English cegep attendance was causing Francophones and Allophones to become anglicized.
The report published by an organization called the "Institut de recherche sur le français en Amérique (IRFA) was funded by a large union organization, the "Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ)."
Suffice to say that both organizations have a 'certain' political take.
The 'institute' has close ties with the Office québécois de la langue française. Marc Termote, a member of its scientific committee was recently named president of the steering committee of the OQLF and Claude Castonguay, a founding member has done quite a bit of work for the 'Office.' It's president, Patrick Sabourin is a noted French language militant who has waded into the language debate on many fronts including complaining about the English mega-hospital and questioned the value of investing in McGill university.
And so, this report, prepared by language militants and separatists, brings to mind those cigarette studies funded by the tobacco companies, in the sixties and seventies, 'proving' no scientific link between their product and cancer!
The study closely examines the use of English by francophone and allophones students attending English cegeps. It concludes, quite rightly that these students (as compared to those who went to a French cegep) speak much more English, look for jobs where English is used principally, read more English newspapers, watch more English movies, have more English friends and speak more English at home etc. etc.
This conclusion is entirely supported by the facts and the data provided, is quite convincing.
But does this mean, as the study intimates (but never concludes,) that English Cegeps are responsible for this anglicization?
Perhaps, perhaps not. The study never examines this specific issue.
Let's get a bit technical;
The major conclusion of the study says that;
"...there is a strong correlation between attending an English cegep and the use of English in daily life." LINK(French)To scientist and statisticians, this phrase is a giant red flag because it makes no reference to 'causation'
'Correlation': the degree to which two or more attributes or measurements on the same group of elements show a tendency to vary together.
'Causation': the action of causing or producing.The conclusion that English cegeps cause Allophones and Francophones to become anglicized, uses the same logic which says people who shop at a left-handers specialty store are more inclined to become left-handers, when in truth, they are most likely left-handers to begin with.
"Correlation does not imply causation" is a phrase used in science and statistics to emphasize that correlation between two variables does not automatically imply that one causes the other.
Let us say, that the education department creates a mythical French language course for immigrants and after a few years decides that they want to evaluate the effectiveness.
They hire a specialized firm who follow the students during the two year long course. First, before the students start the course, they undertake a 'baseline survey,' designed to establish initial conditions against which the effects of a finished project can be compared.
When the students finish the course, they are again re-evaluated and the difference in language skills between the two evaluations indicates the level of effectiveness. Simple enough?
If one wants to measure the anglicizing effect of English cegeps on Allophones and Francophones, the only true method, is to analyze the students propensity towards English before they enter cegep and compare it with their propensity to use English after they graduate. By comparing the two sets of data, conclusions can be drawn.
Is this what the IRFA did to to evaluate the anglicizing effect of English cegep on Francophone and allophones?
Nope, they did nothing of the sort.
Instead they compared apples and oranges, they studied the anglicization levels of two distinct and different groups of Allophones and francophones, one group which attended French cegep and one which attended English cegep.
The two groups are very different to begin with, even before they start attending cegep, so to compare their English skills and conclude that it is the cegep that is the anglicizing factor is scientifically unsupportable.
First and foremost, in order to attend an English cegep, you NEED TO SPEAK ENGLISH, to begin with.
Students who can't speak English, go to a French cegep, they have no choice.
It is only the bilingual (or trilingual,) allophones and francophones students who can go to English cegep.
They are in fact, already to a large degree, highly anglicized before taking a step in the door of the school. Even though they have attended a French high school, many speak English at home, or have made a giant effort to learn the language.
How much English cegeps contribute or strengthen this anglicization remains unknown.
The IRFA study does not answer this question because it never set out to do so.
Drawing conclusions about the anglicizing effect of English cegeps cannot be extrapolated from this study, even though the authors want others to do so.
The study was cleverly structured to avoid looking at this "cegep effect.'
Clever, because nowhere in the report does it directly say that English cegeps are responsible for anglicizing Francophone and Allophone students, but everyone reading it, comes to that conclusion.
And so, like other great myths perpetrated by French language militants, the 'fact' that English cegeps anglicize Francophone and allophones has been woven into the 'French is in decline' narrative, a story based on fiction, misinformation and lies, one that is sold to a gullible public, thirsty to buy into the concept that they are victims of persecution.
No editorialist in the mainstream media challenged the faulty conclusions. Not one.
Perhaps next time they report, the 'Institute' can tell us that francophones who patronize vegetarian grocery stores tend to transform into vegetarians at a higher rate than francophones who shop at Loblaws.
Maybe they can examine the problem of francophones who shop at soccer equipment stores, and prove that they tend to play soccer at a higher rate than those francophones who patronize hockey equipment stores.
I've no doubt that they can provide all the necessary charts to prove that this is true.
Very enlightening, but this is what passes for science in the Quebec language militant movement.
It's neat and tidy and effective,.... but it's all tommyrot!