How to increase the rate of success in bilingual education in Canada

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How to increase the rate of success in bilingual education in Canada

Please note. this thread discusses second-language acquisition policy and so might be offensive to some. Those who are easily offended are advised to leave this section. Reader discretion is advisedInnocent

According to Statistics Canada in 2006 (, only 15% of Canadians knew both official languages, and some (especially in Nunavut), knew neither! Considering that this low rate of success makes the majority of Canadians dependent on interpretors and translators across Canada, which simply duplicates government services (i.e. bilingual education so that people won't need bilingual services and bilingual services owing to a failure to learn both official languages), as well as restrict people's equal access to the nation's economic resources even with bilingual services (such as is the case with those Nunavummiut who know neither language), how do you think we can raise the rate of success in bilingual education in Canada from the current 15%, as well as make sure that all Canadians, including those in the North, know at lest one of the official languages? Or do you see this as a problem at all?

I don't mean to offend anyone by these questions. I'm just curious to know what you honestly think. For example, is a 15% rate of success acceptable? Is it acceptable to have Canadians know neither official language and not provide services for them when they travel across Canada? What are your thoughts? I couldn't care less what you believe; as long as you are respectful, I'll respect any idea you have.


A large majority of Canadians believe in bilingualism so let's develop better programs for Canadians to learn both official languages - perhaps we could have a tax-credit for those who are bilingual, eh!

We need massive exchange programs - any airline doing business in Canada should have to transport exchange students within Canada as part of the cost of their doing business in Canada. 

Mandate bilingual TV networks and programs as a part of hosting a tv cable system in Canada.

And who else is tired of lstening to the translaters? Tell them to go home.

Do we already have national bilingualism contests - if not, let's make it happen.

Nouveau sondage:  62% des répondants favorables au bilinguisme officiel


 I rescently tried the free lesson (30 minute mp3) from the Primrose technique for learning French and I feel like I learned more from that then I did from elementary and high school.


 They don't use that technique in Canadian school and they're is no excuse for it at all, its point blank better in every way.

 One example is they try and teach you how to read and write and grammar before they teach you how to actually speak the language, that's absolutely stunned.

 Think about it, when you first learn to speak your native tongue, say for most on rabble english, do you start out expecting a child to learn grammar and spelling before they're word, no of coarse not, but in school we expect people to try and learn like that in that unnatural way and for many is sucks.

 They're is other reasons why primrose is the better method as well.




I don't think language learning when one is a teenager, and certainly not for an adult, can follow the same acquisition method small children take part in. For one thing, older learners want to know "why".

Acquiring a higher degree of bilingualism or multilingualism does not make translation or interpretation redundant.

And most people in Nunavut who don't master either official language communicate in their own language, Inuktitut. Don't people think we should be doing a lot more to favour the conservation and development of Indigenous languages?




Canada has 2 official languages. 

Perhaps we need to have bilingual schooling from day one in all schools in Canada, and then once students are comfortable in both French and English, it would be helpful if they learned additional languages. 

If they can learn several languages in Europe and they do, what's our problem?


NorthReport wrote:
If they can learn several languages in Europe and they do, what's our problem?

as the saying goes

In Canada being bilingual means you speak two languages.  In Switzerland it means you don't speak three.

But joking aside, the problem definitely has something to do with the entire language education system.  I went to school (Grade school and High school in Ontario) and took French from Grade 5 thru 12 (and hated every minute of every class).  Despite getting adequate marks my French was (and still is) abysmal.  

My German is actually better (though in fairness that's not saying a lot) but that's the result of four years of one hour a week in language classes sponsored by a former employer.  In other words, a fraction of the time that I spent in French class.

I also think that a significant part of the problem is that English speaking Canadians look around and ask what they have to gain by learning French.  Unless they want to live in Quebec or work for the Federal Government most people don't see any real reason to learn French (and it's not hard to make an argument that, on the global stage, Mandarin or Spanish would be a better choice).


montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

220 million people in the world speak French. Not as many as Mandarin or Spanish, but not an insignificant number either. For someone on a low income like myself, living in Quebec has considerable advantages. Were my income to go up and I wanted to buy a condo or a house, the price would be so much lower, I think I would still be better off even with the increased taxes. Car insurance and pharmaceuticals are a lot cheaper as well.

So, you could live in Montreal and not speak French. Those people who are not trying to learn French do not seem to be as happy as the rest. "Oh, woe is me", they will say. In one instance when I was hearing this woe, there was no excuse for it, as they were doing nude body painting in the same room.

If you are a writer or some kind of entrepreneur, I think Montreal wins hands down. Costs are lower, the workforce is highly educated, and they have a way to get to work in a reasonable time.

I don't think they want to learn French, because if they did, they would discover the truth of how disorganized and what a ripoff it is to live in Toronto or Vancouver and most places in between.


montrealer58 wrote:
220 million people in the world speak French. Not as many as Mandarin or Spanish, but not an insignificant number either.

To play devil's advocate for a while, how many of that 220 million people live in places where the official language is French and where it's against the law to do business in any other language.  [France and Quebec come to mind.]

But this reminds me of a discussion I had with an NYC cabbie a few years back.  I'd missed my flight out of Kennedy and had to grab a ride back into the city for the night.  No sooner than I had given my driver (a Bengali for the record) my destination than he picked up on my Canadian accent.  His first question was what did I think of the Canadian French language laws.  But, before I could answer I ended up on the receiving end of a serious diatrabe.  The only reason any culture requires protection by law is because it's a weak culture.  And if it's a weak culture it does not deserve protection.

And then he went on to provide a rational explanation as to why his minority culture (in India) survived with no legal protections.  Then off to the "why does French still exist" - and he wasn't subtle.

For someone on a low income like myself, living in Quebec has considerable advantages. Were my income to go up and I wanted to buy a condo or a house, the price would be so much lower...

That's another way of saying that the resto of the world doesn't think Montreal is as "valuable" as elsewhere in Canada.


I find your post EXTREMELY offensive. Devil's advocate or anglo bigot? The "ethnic taxi driver" schtick is worthy of Margaret Wente at her most racist.


Every culture has wonderful things within, and we should be celebrating all of them. We can all learn things from each other.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

I live in Québec and second language education is a joke.

Learning a language,written and spoken,requires much more than a 1 hour class everyday between Math and Science class.

In Québec the working language is French and you will not fare well in the workforce without fluent knowledge of the language.

Here,anglophones would be better served in French Immersion from Kindergarten through High School.

Would anglos lose their language? Of course not. There's TV and all other media is almost completely English plus you can learn your mother tongue at home.

Language is a touchy issue still in Québec. But I also think francophones would benefit with English classes. Note,francophones are more likely to become bilingual simply because they are immured by an English continent.


I was really shocked by that comment. I'd just have glossed over if it had been a serial anti-Québec bigot, like the chica in this story:

The one sour note was struck by Sun News' Jessica Hume. She tried awkwardly to inject some Quebec bashing into the event.

"I am from Toronto," she said to the Official Opposition Leader, "where we say we have paid for our bad roads by supporting $7 a day child care in Quebec.

or a rightwing troll. But abnormal typically posts progressive and positive comments.

This kind of stuff can't help but remind me of when I worked for the CSN, a very progressive union by North American standards (I believe Unionist is with another good labour outfit, which I've also done work for). They'd be right on the barricades against the bosses, and also very progressive (at least in words, and often in deeds) about women and workers of colour or immigrant backgrounds. Their spot of reactionary weirdness was with respect to the Indigenous peoples.

And a good portion of these fellows obviously had Indigenous parentage, as is extremely common in Québec, and many had said so. Not "racist" per se, but going on about the priviliges and loopholes the Native people had.

It is perfectly normal for non-anglophone cultures in North America to defend their right to exist, whether they are Francophone, Hispanophone or of the many First languages. The anglo bulldozer is NOT a force for progress.