The NHL operates in English and whether you come from Quebec, Newfoundland, Russia, Finland, Sweden or parts unknown, you better be able to speak English if you want to participate.
These Francophone coaches are shining examples of the opportunities that bilingualism offers Quebeckers to those who choose to embrace the most important language in the world.
Unfortunately, there are nationalist voices in Quebec that are actually fighting the notion of learning English as a second language, because they see it as a threat to their own French language and Quebec culture.
In this regard, Quebec must be one of the very, very, few places in the world where the benefits of learning English is actually a subject of public debate.
The most repeated argument that militants make against English is that Quebeckers should not be obliged to learn it, because most of them will end up spending a lifetime in a unilingual situation in Quebec, where they can work and recreate exclusively in French.
And so, this idea, that if you don't aspire to work outside the province, you needn't learn English assumes that children in grade school have already made the decision to remain in Quebec.
The old teaching axiom of telling kids they can be anything they want, if they work hard, apparently doesn't apply in Quebec.
Perhaps Quebec teachers should ask kindergarten students for a show of hands to determine who wants to remain in Quebec and who wants a wider horizon. Those toddlers who have decided that they will spend their entire life in Quebec can safely be exempted from English class!
To make the decision easier perhaps teachers can explain to the five year-olds that they needn't learn English because their best shot at success lies in Quebec. After all, its hard to make it in the real world and perhaps Quebeckers can't compete. After all, few from Quebec have been successful internationally, nobody from Quebec has ventured into space, nobody has headlined the most popular show in Las Vegas, nobody has run an international entertainment company or became a world champion car racer or poker player or for that matter, a coach or player in the NHL, or anything else that demands talent and excellence coupled with English.
The message to these students, that their horizons end at the Quebec border, is criminal, fostered by a ruling class who have chosen their own unilingual path.
Most of those who run Quebec politically, socially, and educationally are such unilinguals. Seeing themselves as successful, they see no problem with unilingualism.
The saddest part of all this is when Quebeckers realize that not having English is a handicap, it's too late for most.
Last summer I went on a European cruise and was seated for dinner each night beside a large table of sixtyish Quebeckers. One member of the group spoke English and he had to order dinner for everyone each night. I imagine he had to make all the arrangements for touring and excursions and I can't imagine how the group got around Italy, Greece and Turkey without English. As in just about every international domain, the tourist industry operates in English.
One morning, I overheard one of the Quebeckers inquire of the tour guide (in halting English) as to when her group was to exit the ship.
After receiving a very polite answer, she turned to her friend and asked.
"Qu'est-ce que ça veut dire 'corter do ate?''
How on Earth would anybody want to condemn their children to a lifetime of that!
Travel opens the eyes as to the necessity of English. I'm reminded of all those francophone high school graduates who sew a Quebec flag onto their knapsack, travel to foreign destinations, only to discover that they cannot be understood without English and that nobody has a clue as to which country that little blue flag represents. It's an eye-opener that comes sadly late in the game.
Not everyone in Quebec feels that English is a threat. In fact almost 80% believe that bilingualism is an asset. Here's an open letter by Gaétan Frigon who at one time ran the Liquor monopoly, the SAQ and Loto-Québec;
"Our history is littered with situations which prompted us to protect and promote French in Quebec. However, this promotion has too often taken an anti-English form rather than a pro-French.
The idea was to prevent our young people from learning English too early lest they become anglicized. But it is time that our vision of the English language change. The English of yesteryear that we fought for so long, no longer exists. The English of today is not the language of the victorious British, but rather one imposed as the international language of U.S. hegemony, ever since the end of the Second World War.
Quebec today must adapt to this reality or risk losing any competitive advantage in its relations with other countries.
In fact, in world history, there has always been one language that more or less dominated. Latin was this language for the longest time. French had also been, especially at the diplomatic level. There have been attempts to impose upon the world the language of Esperanto, but it failed. Today, there is only one language that can be classified as international, and it is English.
If a Chinese person wants to do business with a German, chances are they do it in English. If a Japanese person wants to do business with a Spaniard, chances are they will do it in English as well. And if a Quebecker wants to converse with a Korean, chances are they will do so in English.
If you go around the world, the English language becomes a passkey that allows you to be understood by almost everyone, anywhere, and without regard to political status of countries where you find yourself.
In my many travels around the world, I have personally experienced that my knowledge of French was totally unnecessary, but where I was lost without a working knowledge of English.
Even in large cities of China, the signs designating the street names are in Mandarin and English. A country like Vietnam, most of whose inhabitants still spoke French a few decades ago, has changed dramatically. Today, only people over 50 still speak some French while the younger ones are learning English as a second language and speak it fluently. The same phenomenon also occurs in Italy, where the second most spoken language is not French, but English.
In Quebec, our response to English is still negative because of our history and it is unfortunate, because it brings us into a dead end. It is a sign of what we've been, but not a sign that we must become as an emancipated people . Whether we agree or not, our youth will eventually be losers if they do not speak English, simply because young people all over the world will master English.
In taking up English, we as a people show that we are mature enough to put aside the English symbol of British rule and adopt English by necessity as the only international language.
In doing so, Quebecers clearly demonstrate that they are mature, by being able to live and work in French at home without crushing the English language that has become indispensable as a second language.
In fact, in most non-English speaking countries, governments are doing everything in their power to ensure that their children learn English as soon as possible. we should certainly not want Quebec to become the only nation in the world where young people leave school without mastering the only language that they can be universally understood elsewhere on the planet.
Mastering English as a second language is a priority for all Quebecers, separatists as well as federalists. Otherwise, we will simply become a Francophone ghetto without a future. " LINK