A critical look at Canada's second-language acquisition policy part 2

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Machjo
A critical look at Canada's second-language acquisition policy part 2

This thread continues from:

http://rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/critical-look-canadas-second-language-acquisition-policy

Since the last posts on that thread are not showing up for some reason, i've decided to continue on this trhead.

Machjo

I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice as to how to transfer the info from the last posts of the other thread into this one?

 

I've tried to cut and paste, but for some reason, it won't save. Thanks.

Ze

That thread ran its course, really. You've managed to convince a few people to hate Esperanto, but not much else. 

Perhaps part of the problem is that Canada has no second-language acquisition policy. The federal government has an equality policy; some of the provinces have second-language acquisition policies. 

Machjo

Ze wrote:

That thread ran its course, really. You've managed to convince a few people to hate Esperanto, but not much else. 

Perhaps part of the problem is that Canada has no second-language acquisition policy. The federal government has an equality policy; some of the provinces have second-language acquisition policies. 

 

In this context when I say Canada I'm not referring to the Canadian government but to the provinces and territories collectively.

 

As for the thread having run its course, I would have been happy about that except for personal accusations about my being racist in the previous thread by some forumite, which I take highly personally. So until that point is cleared up with what's his name, I'll continue this thead.

 I've been a victim of prejudice myself, to the point that I'd had leave a town I'd been settled in to relocate with my ex-wife owing to anonymous threats to her safety owing to our not having the same religion. This alone was painful as it involved having to quit our jobs, paying moving expenses, and leaving long-time friends behind.

 

That was only the worse of the prejudice. We'd also received much harassement owing to our having come from different races and ethnic groups.

I'd also witnessed racism being used as a false flag by an employee once who was genuinely incompetent. Having witnessed the devastation of racism myself, I don't appreciate the term being spewed out like candy by those who are clueless as to what it is.

 

This is not directed personally towards you, Ze, so don't worry. The poster I'm referring to knows who he is. I'd like to know his experiences with racism if any.

 

I'd had friends be turned down from an apartment. Under suspicions, they sent me to check and sure enough the aprartment was available for me (I'm white). I've had one friend harassed by the police. He'd been stopped by the police for questioning numerous times until one day he'd addressed the officer by name and took down his name and id. The cop finally left him alone after that. I have plenty such stories.

 

So no, I don't appreciate being called a racist when I've seen the harm it causes first hand.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Boo frickin' Hoo.

I'm glad you have some understanding of racism. Further understanding is needed on your part. You've clearly, at minimum, internalized the structural racism of society. (So have I, and most everyone in society - but some of us make an effort to try to be self-aware.)

And I still think it goes somewhat deeper with you. Your esperanto agenda is still questionable as anything beyond an attack on official bilingualism. Worse, your flippant playing at 'concern' about the 'poor' aboriginal people who speak neither English nor French was simply disgusting. And you've yet to apologize for that display.

saga saga's picture

I agree LTJ. He's only attacked official bilingualism.

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

He's done more than that here:

machjo wrote:
 Justice schmustice. What I believe in is the will of the English majority or, inversely, English weaponry.

Are aboriginals a majority? Not after we made a bunch of them sick, killed abunch more with muskets, threw a bunch more into residential schools to be beaten and raped, and most of them thrown onto reservations.

That's what we should have done to the French, then they could have know their place too like the indians usually know theres, except now and then lie in Oka when they don't want a golf course on their cemeteries. No sence of respect for the law, those folks. But then what do you expect from a bunch of savaves; not like they're European-civilized.

There's not much doubt that it's the same Machjo; the same nonsense about esperanto is being spewed over there. 

lagatta

The writing style is similar as well, though of course he is being more polite over here. Still, the anti-francophone bigotry and at the very least, patronising of Aboriginal peoples (whom he refers to as "Indians" - what century is this, anyway?) shines through. Over there, there is naked anti-Aboriginal racism or perhaps "ironic racism", not allowed on this board as it is hard to tell who is speaking and if it is merely Swiftian black humour AGAINST oppression.

Can moderators see ISPs on other forums? The poster's comments on the other forum are hate speech.

The esperanto stuff is absurd; I know esperantists who are progressive and fine people; most speak several "natural" languages as well, and none would call for esperanto in lieu of an official, national or indigenous language.

One thing I am seriously interested is increasing the presence and recognition of Aboriginal languages; the problem there is which ones. Sadly, there is more Inuktitut taught on a university and postgraduate level in Paris than in Québec.

Unionist

Far be it from me to defend Machjo, but he is obviously being sarcastic (in incredibly bad taste, would be bannable here) on that board, and he even says so explicitly in post #110 there.

 

triciamarie

As Unionist points out, there is also this comment, further down the same thread in that other forum that is being put forward to impeach this new babbler:

Quote:
I'm being sarcastic.

Well of course he is!

What I'm getting here is that here is someone who initially wanted to debate this topic in French but we don't do that here.

This person has identified a significant problem with official bilingualism in Canada, in that most of us are not competent in both languages, and English is the majority language. So that is in effect, an institutional prejudice operating against the French.

He also suggests that it is the elite who are more likely to speak both languages. The disadvantage of unilingualism disproportionately affects the poor, and disproportionately, French poor -- to say nothing of aboriginal people whose first language is neither French nor English.

The lip service paid to promoting bilingualism, while having no real expectation of that result, costs a great deal of money.

I don't agree with the conclusion that we should substitute another language. I still hope and subscribe to the belief that by helping to preserve the French language in Canada, we are also supporting the preservation of our francophone cultures. But I also don't support this lynching of a new babbler -- a francophone at that -- for having the audacity to open the discussion.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Machjo is definitely not a francophone.

And the door was repeatedly opened to discussion of improvements that could be made to official languages education; Machjo showed no interest whatsoever in the topic.

With that, I will comment no further.

Ze

Yeah, I think it's done here too, unless someone starts a real thread that is genuinely about the issues.

Machjo, even if your feelings are genuinely hurt, "he called me a racist" is not a real reason to start a a thread. 

Machjo

Boo frickin' Hoo.

 How mighty kind of you.

 

I'm glad you have some understanding of racism. Further understanding is needed on your part. You've clearly, at minimum, internalized the structural racism of society. (So have I, and most everyone in society - but some of us make an effort to try to be self-aware.)

So if you think I'm racist, would you mind educating me about how I'm being racist rather than just insulting me? Are you here just to insult or try to improve people? The choice is yours to make. 

 And I still think it goes somewhat deeper with you. Your esperanto agenda is still questionable as anything beyond an attack on official bilingualism. Worse, your flippant playing at 'concern' about the 'poor' aboriginal people who speak neither English nor French was simply disgusting. And you've yet to apologize for that display.

 

Agoin, would you mind educating me on what exactly is disgustinag about what I've said? If you're goint to accuse a person of being racist, at the very least he deserves an explanation as to how he's being racist. Unless of course you don't beleve in taking responsibility for your accusations.

Machjo

saga wrote:

I agree LTJ. He's only attacked official bilingualism.

 

I do have a critical view of Official bilingualism, and I have no issue with people challenging my views on legitimate grounds. To simply throw baseless insults is not part of that though. Certainly if my critical view of Official Bilingualism is so repulsive, one would think that it would be easy to pull out all kinds of specific points against my proposal intead of sweeping insults. Is that not what school teaches?

Machjo

Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:

He's done more than that here:

machjo wrote:
 Justice schmustice. What I believe in is the will of the English majority or, inversely, English weaponry.

Are aboriginals a majority? Not after we made a bunch of them sick, killed abunch more with muskets, threw a bunch more into residential schools to be beaten and raped, and most of them thrown onto reservations.

That's what we should have done to the French, then they could have know their place too like the indians usually know theres, except now and then lie in Oka when they don't want a golf course on their cemeteries. No sence of respect for the law, those folks. But then what do you expect from a bunch of savaves; not like they're European-civilized.

There's not much doubt that it's the same Machjo; the same nonsense about esperanto is being spewed over there. 

 

Yes, that statement was inappropriate, even if it was meant sarcastically. And I accept responsibility for it.

Machjo

The writing style is similar as well, though of course he is being more polite over here. Still, the anti-francophone bigotry and at the very least, patronising of Aboriginal peoples (whom he refers to as "Indians" - what century is this, anyway?) shines through.

My apologies if I used an inappropriate word to describe the First Nations. I still don't think my errors excuse your errors though.

 

First off, I'm francohopne myself; my own mother has a strong French accent when she speaks French, I speak to her in French all the time unless an Anglo is present if he doesn't know French, and I've worked in bilingual environments in Montreal where bilingualism was required for the job. Would you qualify to work in such an environment? How much more francohone can I get? Do you expect me to carry a friggin baguette under my arms and wear a beret? though granted that would be European French. Should I tattoo a a friggin Quebec flag to my forhead even though I'm not Quebecois? Maybe I could tattoo a franco-ontarian flag to my forhead? Would that satisfy you? So what Francophone bigotry? I appreciate your having pointed out my inappropriate use of the word Indian at the spur of a heated argument. Now would you mind pointing out my francohone bigotry? Thanks in advance. 

 

Because the way I understand it right now is that as a Francophone, i must believe in the status quo. If I don't believe in the status quo, then I lose the privilege of being a francophone. I'm not fulfilling your prejudiced stereotype of a francophone, is that it? A certain ideology must accompany the francophone mindset? Heck, even my mother would disagree with my views on this, and likely profoundly so. But I still have the right to have my views criticized on their own merits and not just revceive blind personal attacks.

 Over there, there is naked anti-Aboriginal racism or perhaps "ironic racism", not allowed on this board as it is hard to tell who is speaking and if it is merely Swiftian black humour AGAINST oppression. Can moderators see ISPs on other forums? The poster's comments on the other forum are hate speech.

 Besides those sarcastic comments that I've already apologized for, can you point out where the hate speech is? I'm always open to an education if I'm wrong. But if you just intend to insult me, isn't that hate speech too? Two wrongs make a right? So if i have indeed expressed hate speech, then you've just dropped to my own level.

The esperanto stuff is absurd; I know esperantists who are progressive and fine people;

 So how am i not progressive?

most speak several "natural" languages as well

 I speak English, French and Esperanto fluently, and have can hold a decent conversation in mandarin. I can also read the Arabic script in Persian and Arabic, though I'm by no means functional in either language. What more do you want? And even if I knew nothing but French and Esperanto, or English and Esperanto, how would that relate to my argument? that would only have proven that I would not have received the same education opportunities as others. So you would have held that against me? 

 

, and none would call for esperanto in lieu of an official, national or indigenous language.

 When did I ever do that. What I was proposing was to add more languages to the list of second languages schools could chose from which could include esperanto and aboriginal languages, as a way to promote universal bilingualism as opposed to elite bilingualism between two european langauges only. You're free to disagree. that's just my view. I'd rather universal bilingualism at the individual level rater than mass monolingualism and elite bilingualism at the institutional level. What's wrong with that?

 

 One thing I am seriously interested is increasing the presence and recognition of Aboriginal languages; the problem there is which ones.

 Who are we to choose. Why not let schools decide which second language to teach (or perhaps even first language in some cases), rather than imposing two European langauges onto them?

 Sadly, there is more Inuktitut taught on a university and postgraduate level in Paris than in Québec.

In France, schools can choose from a list of over 170 languages to choose from. In Hungary, even more. In Quebec, it's all to English. What do you expect. If the attitude is entrenched at the compulsory level that English is all that matters, then of course all Quebecers will simply gravitate towards English only. this is in fact one of the reasons I oppose official Bilingualism. Do you not see the contradiction in your arguments?

saga saga's picture

Machjo wrote:
saga wrote:

I agree LTJ. He's only attacked official bilingualism.

 

I do have a critical view of Official bilingualism, and I have no issue with people challenging my views on legitimate grounds. To simply throw baseless insults is not part of that though. Certainly if my critical view of Official Bilingualism is so repulsive, one would think that it would be easy to pull out all kinds of specific points against my proposal intead of sweeping insults. Is that not what school teaches?

 

Your views are repulsive and you are cruising all over the net finding opportunities to impose them on people, which makes you a troll. 

That's my opinion.

 

Machjo

Finally someone capable of reading comprehension. thank you.

 

As Unionist points out, there is also this comment, further down the same thread in that other forum that is being put forward to impeach this new babbler:

Quote:
I'm being sarcastic.

Well of course he is!

 

What I'm getting here is that here is someone who initially wanted to debate this topic in French but we don't do that here.

And I'm still willing to debate it in French. In fact, for those interested, you're more than welcome to revive an old thread I'd started here:

 http://forums.laliberation.org/viewtopic.php?t=1868&highlight=

 

No I'm not a sovereignist, but ironically enough, I was still more warmly accepted there than here, with the exception of a few, includig yourself.

 This person has identified a significant problem with official bilingualism in Canada, in that most of us are not competent in both languages, and English is the majority language. So that is in effect, an institutional prejudice operating against the French.

He also suggests that it is the elite who are more likely to speak both languages. The disadvantage of unilingualism disproportionately affects the poor, and disproportionately, French poor -- to say nothing of aboriginal people whose first language is neither French nor English.

The lip service paid to promoting bilingualism, while having no real expectation of that result, costs a great deal of money.

Thank you. You seem to be one of the few who actually bothered to read waht I'd written before commenting. Thank you thank you Thank you. 

 

I don't agree with the conclusion that we should substitute another language. I still hope and subscribe to the belief that by helping to preserve the French language in Canada, we are also supporting the preservation of our francophone cultures. But I also don't support this lynching of a new babbler -- a francophone at that -- for having the audacity to open the discussion.

 You're free to disagree with the conclusion of course, and that I have no problem with. But I appreciate the fact that you're willing to challenge my views in a rational manner by pointing out in a calm manner why you disagree. And that's how it should be done among educated people. Again, I can't thank you enough for this. You truly are a breath of fresh air and an example to the rest of us.

 

Since many in this forum are not too interested in this topic (which is fine), I'll simply recommend that those who are interested could simply revive a thread here:

 http://forums.laliberation.org/viewtopic.php?t=1868&highlight=

 

Though it is a sovereignist forum, and though some of them did disagree with my ideas, they could still express their reasons clearly. Some agreed with my ideas, some disagreed, some agreed in part. There seems to be more diversity of views in the sovereignist movement on this front than in the federalist movement, or at least from the observations in these forums.

 

Unless any other responds in this forum, I'll just leave it to the French speakers in this forum to move on to that forum to revive that thread if interested.

 

And as for monolingual English-speaking supporters of Official Bilingualism as it stands currently, well, you're its product.

Machjo

saga wrote:

Machjo wrote:
saga wrote:

I agree LTJ. He's only attacked official bilingualism.

 

I do have a critical view of Official bilingualism, and I have no issue with people challenging my views on legitimate grounds. To simply throw baseless insults is not part of that though. Certainly if my critical view of Official Bilingualism is so repulsive, one would think that it would be easy to pull out all kinds of specific points against my proposal intead of sweeping insults. Is that not what school teaches?

Your views are repulsive and you are cruising all over the net finding opportunities to impose them on people, which makes you a troll. 

That's my opinion.

 

 

Let's see if I understand this. My views are repulsive and I'm a troll. Therefore, Offiical Bilingualism is a good thing. Hmmm.. so that means that if I wasn't a troll, you'd be opposing Official Bilingualism too.

Machjo

Machjo is definitely not a francophone.

My vies don't fit the stereotypical anglophone view of waht a francohone should believe. Therefore i'm not a Francophone. I see. So could you tell me what you believe a francophone is supposed to believe so that I can satisfy your prejudices?

 

And the door was repeatedly opened to discussion of improvements that could be made to official languages education; Machjo showed no interest whatsoever in the topic.

I'd stated explicitely that if something could be done to ensure universal french-English bilingualism, i'd be open to it. i'm just not convinced we'll see taht any time soon. Heck, even many Anglos in Ottawa are monolingual for cryin out loud. 

 

With that, I will comment no further.

Thank you.

triciamarie

Machjo, c'est ma plaisir.

This board does get trolled pas mal souvent, and we don't tend to pull our punches ever, so that's why newcomers are kinda expected to show some bone fides before raising contentious viewpoints. Our heart is in the right place though.

May I suggest you spend some time and participate in some other discussions first, if you want to come back to this issue later? Not guaranteeing that you would find a more receptive audience for your ideas but you might get more of a discussion out of it. Postings in one thread are usually not (not supposed to be, anyway) commented on in other threads, so you would probably have a better experience of us in another forum.

It would be great to have another francophone voice on the board.

It's Me D

Not entirely on the thread topic but while lurking I picked up on this comment:

machjo wrote:
There seems to be more diversity of views in the sovereignist movement on this front than in the federalist movement, or at least from the observations in these forums.

I'm curious if you've just characterized Babble as a "federalist" discussion forum; maybe thats not what you meant, if so I'm sorry for the misread, but if this is what you meant can you explain why you've come to this conclusion?

I don't consider myself a "federalist" at all and now I'm wondering if I missed something in Babble's principles about this being a forum for "federalists". Or perhaps its just a characterization of the positions offered by most babblers participating in this discussion...

Unionist

triciamarie wrote:

Machjo, c'est ma plaisir.

Mon plaisir.

triciamarie

!! ok.

(Fait longtemps j'ai pas parler francais.)

Machjo

Not entirely on the thread topic but while lurking I picked up on this comment:

machjo wrote:
There seems to be more diversity of views in the sovereignist movement on this front than in the federalist movement, or at least from the observations in these forums.

I'm curious if you've just characterized Babble as a "federalist" discussion forum; maybe thats not what you meant, if so I'm sorry for the misread, but if this is what you meant can you explain why you've come to this conclusion?

I don't consider myself a "federalist" at all and now I'm wondering if I missed something in Babble's principles about this being a forum for "federalists". Or perhaps its just a characterization of the positions offered by most babblers participating in this discussion...

 

Sorry, you're right. it's quite an assumption on my part. At the moment that I'd typed that I was thinking how defensive many in this forum were of Official Bilingualism to the point that they were treating it as seemingly sacrosanct, beyond reproach, holy, sanctified, infallible, etc. That is is certainly not what I'd expect from either a Quebec sovereigntist (they actuallly support official monolingualism for Quebec and don't care much for beyond its borders), or a 'boot-Quebec-out' type of mentality. So I'd concluded, possibly erringly, that only hard-core federalists a la Trudeau would have placed Official Bilingualism on such a religious pedestal.

Please take my comments lightheartedly in this post. I'm being truthful while still trying to inject some humour. I hope it's mot misread.

Machjo

Having said that though, I should point out that I'm a decentralist worl federalist, so neither of the main views of Canadian federalism apply to me so neatly. But my belief in world federalism also make me less emotion on either front. After all, a world federation could just as easily encompass a unified Canada as it could a separate Quebec.

 

As for language policy, I tend to prefer universal bilingualism at the individual level, with each person knowing his own language plus a universal auxiliary language. I just don't get the laziness inherent in official bilingualism or multilingualism and personal monolingualism, whereby we expect the government to do all the workd for us rather than put in the personal effort to learn at least one second language.

 

Just my views on this.

Machjo

triciamarie wrote:

Machjo, c'est ma plaisir.

This board does get trolled pas mal souvent, and we don't tend to pull our punches ever, so that's why newcomers are kinda expected to show some bone fides before raising contentious viewpoints. Our heart is in the right place though.

May I suggest you spend some time and participate in some other discussions first, if you want to come back to this issue later? Not guaranteeing that you would find a more receptive audience for your ideas but you might get more of a discussion out of it. Postings in one thread are usually not (not supposed to be, anyway) commented on in other threads, so you would probably have a better experience of us in another forum.

It would be great to have another francophone voice on the board.

 

Thanks for the advice.

It's Me D

Thank you for that Machjo. I suppose we'd need another thread to discuss it, I don't want to derail the discussion of language policy and I don't have anything to say on the subject so I suppose we should leave it there for now.

Perhaps in another discussion we could explore this statement, if you're interested; at least as you've presented it here I don't agree with you:

Machjo wrote:
After all, a world federation could just as easily encompass a unified Canada as it could a separate Quebec.

Machjo
al-Qa'bong

I had a strange experience with anglo francophobia last weekend. One of the door-opening coaches didn't show up for our PeeWee hockey game, so I asked my 14-year old to man the gate.

 

At one point during the game, one of the other kids on the team started complaining that my "gatekeeper" and my 11-year old hockey player were speaking French to each other on the bench. (French is their first language.)  I told the kid to back off (and a couple of other things), which he did.

 After the game, my big guy said he'd feel as though he were betraying himself to speak English with his brother in such circumstances.  They usually speak French to each other at home.

Machjo

al-Qa'bong wrote:

I had a strange experience with anglo francophobia last weekend. One of the door-opening coaches didn't show up for our PeeWee hockey game, so I asked my 14-year old to man the gate.

At one point during the game, one of the other kids on the team started complaining that my "gatekeeper" and my 11-year old hockey player were speaking French to each other on the bench. (French is their first language.)  I told the kid to back off (and a couple of other things), which he did.

 After the game, my big guy said he'd feel as though he were betraying himself to speak English with his brother in such circumstances.  They usually speak French to each other at home.

 

I'vehad my own experiences too. Here are some of my experiences with language in my life.

My mother is French Canadian and my father British. So whenever there was conflict in the family, I'd be learning all the things you can call a French Canadian from my father, and all the things you can call an Anglo from my mother.

That might explain why I remember when I was around eight, the local kids at CFB Uplands were already divided into their cliques. I was in the francophone clique, and we had a good time with the anglophone clique exchanging insults we'd learnt from our parents or wherever they'd learnt them from.

I remember my mom telling me that at one time when my dad had taken me to meet his colleagues at work, they'd got a good laugh because of my French-Canadian accent (at the time, which my mom still has today) and his British accent.

Then when I was nine, I had to move to Victoria, BC., but continued on through French-medium instruction through elementary school. A couple years later, as I was selling chocolates at a mall for a school ski trip, one guy was about to buy some chocolates (I'd lost my accent by then, after years of coaching from my father, which I still remember today about the 'th' sound), and asked which school I was attending. He couldn't understand the pronunciation, so I simply explained that it was an English-medium school. He suddenly put his wallet back into his pocket, said, and I quote, "I hate French people", and walked away. His not buying the chocolates hadn't bothered me in the least; I was most angry at that moment at not having been able to think of a rebuttle quickly enough. It had come as such a surprise since he was quite friendly up until then.

I had my first introduction to language politics in elementary school too, when one day in the hallway I'd overheard a conversation between two teachers complaining that the BC government wasn't being fair in how much money it was giving that school in relation to other schools, saying that they had extra expeses owing to the extra cost of books and resources that were unavailable in BC.

I'd eventually had to leave French-medium instruction to go to an English-medim secondary school since the elementary school was too far from where we lived. There, I had to drop out of French lessons altogether because they simply didn't have French courses at my level. So no more French for me until grade 12.

After a few years after completing school in BC, I'd managed to get a job in Charlevoix, Quebec, assisting English teachers in La malbaie Pointe aux Pics, in Charlevoix Country, Quebec. I hadn't been in the province since my childhood camping experiences, and had never lived there. I was shocked on my first day on the job when I'd introduced myself to the Secondaire 5 class (equal to grade 12 in BC) in fluent English as I would have addressed any other Canadian. Their jaws just dropped. The teacher looked at me and signalled me to slow down. Then it was my turn to drop my jaw. I couldn't believe it. It was a shock to me. "Ths is Canada", I thought to myself. "This is their last year of compulsory education, and they can't nderstand a simple introduction in English at regular conversational speed?". That was the first time it had dawned on me that the system was failing French Canadians just as much as it was English Canadians.

I remember tutoring one student in the evenings because he had failed English in secondary school and that's all he needed to get into niversity. He'd told me how he hated English, never planed to leave Quebec anyway (he wanted to stay near his family),and that English would never be useful to him anyway. As far as he could tell, English was just a waste of time holding him back from going to university. He simply resented it.

 After my contract there, I got married and settled in Montreal. French came in handy there workwise. But I remember serving as a volunteer interpreter for a group one day when the topic of conversation was about whether our group ought to by an interpretation device. Debate about the cost enued. One English-speaker explained that it was frustrating to always wait for interpretation and that such a device could allow for simultaneous interpretation but it was expensive. At that, one francophone signalled to me not to interpret, switched to English himself, and spat out that that English-speaker was a Nazi for not bothering to try to learn French in Montreal. The English-speaker simply apologized and shut up. But later others went up to apoogize to him on the other person's behalf. That was my first awareness of just how explosive lanuage can be.

Though French was useful to me workwise in Montreal, it was certainly not friendly to me in other ways. One of my brothers-in-law wanted to finish his secondary school in Quebec. But because of Bill 101, and because he was legally a minor, and because he didn't know French, my wife (now ex-wife) had proposed that I sign up to be his legal guardian and help him settle in Waterloo, Ontario for six months until he could legally stay there on his own. I agreed (whether that was a wise decision or not in hindsight is not a matter for this thread). So I had to leave her for six months (she was attending university at the time in Montreal) to register her brother for school in Ontario, find an apartment, new job, etc. so that he and I could settle dowm for six months. Very expensive.

A few years later, we divorced, I'd moved to China more as a reaction to grief than any rational thought, and learnt even more there about language and how it was failing students. As I was visiting Urumqi one day, I was travelling through the Uighur market. Uighurs are white-skinned like me. So I blended right in as a local... until I'd opened my mouth. I'd asked the price for some dried fruit rolls, but in Mandarin.HTe endor gve me the dirtiest look and responded in perfect Mandarin: 'Why are you speaking to me in Mandarin for?" Why don't you speak Uighur?" I had to apologize for having dared to use my Madarin with her and explain that I was a foreigner ad didn't know Uighur. There ya go, another language to learn (not that I ever did though since I was there for only a week).

Then coming back to settle in Ottawa, I came to realise that there's plenty of tension between the English and French speakers here too. I'd noticed some English speakers criticizing the local government's official bilingualism policy because it blocked them from promotions they were perfectly qalified for.

 

And the story continues. It would seem that Canada's language strategy has been nothing but a flop from all points of view. Few succeed in learning the language (be it French or English). Forcing students to learn French and English without sufficient resources simply promotes furher frustration and resentment. Sure they might do that with any language, but at least if we could give easier language options, they might have a better chance of success and so feel a greater sense of accomplishment rather than resentment towards their second language and the people who speak it. I've had enough experience with language policies around Canada to see that they are ill-thought out, with little to no awareness of the real economic or political consequences of these policies. I myself have had to bear the brunt of some of these policies out of my own pockets, so I don't see them as some feel-good policy to make us look good. I see them as policies with real life concequences on real people. Somthing few seem to realise unless they've lived through it.

saga saga's picture

Life is never as simple.  People have differences. Some people are just bigoted a$$holes who deserve to be ignored.

Denying people their choice of language is hardly an answer to the complexity. Giving in to the a$$holes isn't an answer either.

Human beings are complex and cannot be simplified by edict to try to make everyone the same. That's totalitarianism.

We value our roots in French, English and Aboriginal languages, cultures and laws, with all of its complexities. Not to say we haven't all felt the sting of rebuff for our branch of those roots, but life goes on!

 

 

George Victor

An excellent summary of the Canadian way, Saga.

And we send our children to french immersion classes (where they are available) and they, in turn, send their children to french immersion classes (and there is not a huge growth in demand, except maybe in Alberta) and lo, someday, a critical mass will be achieved and we live happily ever after. At least, that is the hope and expectation of my daughter, grandaughter and myself.

But in the meantime, you do nothing to endanger that dream, not even by calling it a dream - not if you expect polite conversation to result. And it seems to me that pointing only to the weaknesses of such dreams and assumptions in the face of tioday's frightening moves by a narcissistic conservative leadership in economic conditions that threaten to make the Great Depression look like a cakewalk...!

Well, it seems to me that such an envelope is being pushed here. And I, for one, have had a bellyful.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Our best research as a parent's group in Toronto indicates that there is close to 30% more demand for immersion programs than there are spaces being made available. There is a high 'drop-out' rate at the secondary level, not due to lack of success by the students, but rather because of extremely limited course options in the immersion stream - so that any student not interested in a career in teaching or translation must take the bulk of their classes in English, in a non-immersion environment. Any extra funding provided by the province and Ottawa for FSL is diverted towards the more pressing needs of the city, such as ESL for newcomers.

Clearly, what success is being achieved is being achieved despite many obstacles, and some official neglect.

How this is can be deemed a failure in less than two generations is very puzzling - given that 5 generations of esperanto resulting in less than 10,000 fluent speakers worldwide is supposed to be considered a success. 

Machjo

Life is never as simple.  People have differences. Some people are just bigoted a$$holes who deserve to be ignored.

 I can agree with that. The problem though is that many Quebecers interpret Official Bilingualism as English being forced down their throats. As a result, support for Bil 101 continues. And of couse support for Official Bilingualism continues as a counterbalance to Bill 101. They feed off of each other. And unfortunately, I got bit in the ass for it with my ex-brother in law. For some,especialy if they come from more homogeneous families, official bilingualism is an enjoyable hobby. For me, I got bit by Bill 101 in a brush with the Quebec education system, having to relocate and all that entails, just for a family member because he didn't fit the Quebec Utopian profile, changing my life because of a language war between Anglos and Francos. In that respect, theough I might not like many of Harper's views, his views on language are more in line with what Quebec wants ironically enough. What's more ironic is that he's not willing to work with the Sovereigntists on language policy in spite of their similarities, just because of his francophobia.

Now let's suppose that we did adopt a Belgian model whereby the federal government no longer imposed Official Bilingualism on federal jobs in Quebec. First off, this is what Sovereigntists were asking for last election, so this would likely weaken sovereigntist support. Secondly, it would save money in having to train bilingual staff in parts of Quebec where nbody speaks English anyway. And sinse it would reduce the fear of English, maybe people would be more receptive to toning down the provisions of Bill 101 so that foreign students and their Canadian family members don't have to get bit in the butt for other people's utopian dreams. Why should I pay the price for your dreams. Did you pay for my moving expenses and living costs while I was relocating? I think not. But you're more than willing to fight this language war with Quebec with no regard for the consequences on other people.

Denying people their choice of language is hardly an answer to the complexity.

 I fuly agree. That's why I think giving schools more language choices besides just English in Quebec of French in English Canada could help. Some Canadians might rather learn an aboriginal language instead of the Utopian dream. Let them. Some Quebers might find Spanish easier to learn than English. Why not let them? Could build better relations with Latin America anyway, and a smaller number of students choosing English in Quebec would likely reduce the perceived threat of English, and so again make people more open to the idea of watering down Bill 101.

 Giving in to the a$$holes isn't an answer either.

I fuly agree. But what about those who lack the resources to learn their second language well? They fail to learn their second language and then resent having been forced to learn it. With good reason. If we force them to learn it, we ahve an obligation to ensure they can. if we can't do that, we forfeit our right to force them to learn it.

Human beings are complex and cannot be simplified by edict to try to make everyone the same. That's totalitarianism.

 Exactly. And that's why we must allow schools to coose their second language.

We value our roots in French, English and Aboriginal languages, cultures and laws, with all of its complexities. Not to say we haven't all felt the sting of rebuff for our branch of those roots, but life goes on!

Give me a break. Most in this forum don't even know French. How can it be part of your roots if you don't even know it? I have some Aboriginal blood, but I would never say that I have Aboriginal roots in a cultural sense. I've been quite assimilated into English and French cultures. I don't even know what nation it was, and that's going back three generations on my father's side.

While I can claim French roots 'cause I know the language and culture, who is the average monolingual Anglophone to claim the same?

Machjo

An excellent summary of the Canadian way, Saga.

And we send our children to french immersion classes (where they are available) and they, in turn, send their children to french immersion classes (and there is not a huge growth in demand, except maybe in Alberta) and lo, someday, a critical mass will be achieved and we live happily ever after. At least, that is the hope and expectation of my daughter, grandaughter and myself.

I fully agree with this option being available. I would oppose it being made compulsory. 

 

But in the meantime, you do nothing to endanger that dream, not even by calling it a dream - not if you expect polite conversation to result.

 But your dream stepped on my reality.

And it seems to me that pointing only to the weaknesses of such dreams and assumptions in the face of tioday's frightening moves by a narcissistic conservative leadership in economic conditions that threaten to make the Great Depression look like a cakewalk...!

So we should ignore the fact that society has shifted to the right, whether we like it or not, and ignore the fact that we are in recession, and ignore the fact that immersion and minority-language-medium schools are more expensive owing to resources haivng to be got from farther afield? We're ust to ignore all of reality and how these policies might affect real human being just for the sake of a dream? I don't think so. We each have our dreams. Let the schools decide which second language to teach according to the needs of the person, not of some ideology. ideologies are to serve the people, not the other way around.

Well, it seems to me that such an envelope is being pushed here. And I, for one, have had a bellyful.

And I've opened my wallet a few times to feed your belly.

George Victor

"Give me a break. Most in this forum don't even know French. How can it be part of your roots if you don't even know it? I have some Aboriginal blood, but I would never say that I have Aboriginal roots in a cultural sense. I've been quite assimilated into English and French cultures. I don't even know what nation it was, and that's going back three generations on my father's side.

While I can claim French roots 'cause I know the language and culture, who is the average monolingual Anglophone to claim the same?"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We're trying to meet your specifications, but you, in your angst, can't wait, eh?

But it really isn't all about you, narcissus.  Not really.

George Victor

"And I've opened my wallet a few times to feed your belly. "

-------------------------------------------------------

You really are a Conservative plant. It's all about your wallet. 

Thought as much, but you are a clever  spook, narcissus.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Perhaps not conservative, but very clearly right-wing: sees the world in black and white terms; seeks simplistic answers to complex issues. 

The army-brat background is very revealing. Military homes seem to produce this kind of inchoate rage in children all too often.

Machjo

Our best research as a parent's group in Toronto indicates that there is close to 30% more demand for immersion programs than there are spaces being made available. There is a high 'drop-out' rate at the secondary level, not due to lack of success by the students, but rather because of extremely limited course options in the immersion stream - so that any student not interested in a career in teaching or translation must take the bulk of their classes in English, in a non-immersion environment. Any extra funding provided by the province and Ottawa for FSL is diverted towards the more pressing needs of the city, such as ESL for newcomers.

I'm all for increased funding for bilingual education for those who want it. I simply oppose making it compulsory. 

 Clearly, what success is being achieved is being achieved despite many obstacles, and some official neglect.

I can agree to that. If we're going to support official bilingualism, then we'd beter provide the necessary funding to make sure it's not a wase ot time. In Quebec, some monolingual French speakers resent the fact that they are blocked from many federal jobs in their own province owing to official bilingualism. If we could ensure their success, then maybe the Sovereigtist movement would cool down a bit. by the way, the Bloc has asked already to make all federal services in Quebec monolingual for reasons of efficiency and equity to make sure all Quebecers have access to job opportunities in the government in their own province. And damned right they are.

How this is can be deemed a failure in less than two generations is very puzzling - given that 5 generations of esperanto resulting in less than 10,000 fluent speakers worldwide is supposed to be considered a success. 

Considerng how many resources have been poored into Bilingual Education in Canada, and how many into Esperanto in Europe, I'd say Esperanto has proven quite resilient in achieving recongition in the school systems in Italy, England, Poland, Croatia and Hungary. If it has achieved that on a shoewtring budget, imagine what it could achieve if Canada's Ministires of Education adopted a system similar to the England's.

One reason Esperanto's growth has been so slow is revealed by the ItalianMinistry of Public Instruction in 1993:

"

There are, then, good reasons to call attention to the international language: good reasons ignored up until now, or even hidden by deliberate misinformation."

 Those are pretty strong words coming from a ministry of education report.

Remember too that Esperanto was crushed under Nazi Germany:

As long as the Jew has not become the master of the other peoples, he must speak their languages whether he likes it or not, but as soon as they became his slaves, they would all have to learn a universal language (Esperanto, for instance!), so that by this additional means the Jews could more easily dominate them! -- Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

Because the creation of an international hybrid language contradicts the basic concepts of National Socialism and ultimately can only serve the interests of supranational powers, the F�hrer's deputy forbids all party members and members of organisations affiliated to the party to belong to all forms of artificial language associations. -- Martin Bormann, the chief of staff of Hitler's deputy

And Salinist Russia:

[Esperanto is] the language of spies. -- Stalin

 

So I'd say Esperanto has come along way considering the circumstances.

Machjo

And why limit ourselves to Esperanto?What about Canada's Aboriginal languages? Why could a school not be free to teach one of those over French or English as a second language?

Machjo

George Victor wrote:

"Give me a break. Most in this forum don't even know French. How can it be part of your roots if you don't even know it? I have some Aboriginal blood, but I would never say that I have Aboriginal roots in a cultural sense. I've been quite assimilated into English and French cultures. I don't even know what nation it was, and that's going back three generations on my father's side.

While I can claim French roots 'cause I know the language and culture, who is the average monolingual Anglophone to claim the same?"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We're trying to meet your specifications, but you, in your angst, can't wait, eh?

But it really isn't all about you, narcissus.  Not really.

 

My point is, if you don't know French, then do you really know what's going on? Here's a poll I'd created on a Sovereigntist forum a few years ago:

http://forums.laliberation.org/viewtopic.php?t=1868

The poll question was:

Should Quebec students have more language choices at school?

10 voted yes, 6 no. So it seems that most of the Quebecers on that forum do't agree with having English shoved down their throats. That might also explain the winnings of the Bloc over the years. One of the things it's asking for is that all federal services in Quebec be done in French. But if you dont know French, how can you truly know what the average monolingual French-speaking Quebecer thinks? You're in the dark pretending you know that they want Official Bilingualism whaen that's one of the very things feeding the Soveregntist movement. That's why I think it's not wise to be imposing languages you yourself do't know on people. Because you really don't know what's going on in that community. That being the case, it would be safer, not ot mention more democratic, to just give them more language choice. By the way, I was talking to one lawyer in Quebec, and as it turns out, though I'm unfamiliar with the details, the Federal Government does in fact pressure the Provincial government to make English mandatory in all Quebec schools. So much for education being a provincial matter, eh?

Machjo

George Victor wrote:

"And I've opened my wallet a few times to feed your belly. "

-------------------------------------------------------

You really are a Conservative plant. It's all about your wallet. 

Thought as much, but you are a clever  spook, narcissus.

 

I wasn't referring to taxes. I was referring to the fact that I'd had to relocate from Quebec for my borther in law at the time because he dind't know French. That meant quitting my job, moving, finding a new apartment, living aprt from my wife for a time, etc. All because of Bill 101, which I believe is at least in part a countermeasure agaist Official Bilingualism.

If you're such a caring socialist, woud you not agree that I should have been compensated financially for all the trouble? You want official bilingualism. About half of Quebec doesn't want it and they feel it's being pushed down their throats so I get the shaft for it through their Bill 101. Granted, ill 101 might still exist even without official bilingulaism, but then maybe it could be a Bill 101 light, rather than what they have now which they feel is necessary to defend against an English onslought. So I'm a Conservative because I oppose laws that incite others to pass counterlaws that hurt people and disrupt their lives? Brilliant.

Machjo

Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:

Perhaps not conservative, but very clearly right-wing: sees the world in black and white terms; seeks simplistic answers to complex issues. 

The army-brat background is very revealing. Military homes seem to produce this kind of inchoate rage in children all too often.

 Strange that. About half of Quebecers oppose official bilingualism too. Yet we'd usually think of them as left wing. Are you saying a Quebecer who opposes official bilingualism is left wing but a Franco-Ontarian who questions it is right wing? So ideology is now linked to ethnicicty.