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

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

Considering that Canada's official bilingualism policy is costing Canadians 16 thousand million Canadian dollars per year and is showing such a dismal rate of success of only 15%, what do you think we could do to bring this to the attention of our Ministries of Education, especially when we consider that, as European research shows, more efficient second-language acquisition policies do exist that could not only save Canada money, but save the EU about 25 thousand million euros per year on second-language acquisition alone?

 According to Statistics Canada's 2006 sensus (http://www40.statcan.gc.ca/l01/cst01/demo15-eng.htm), only about 15% of Canadians (i.e. 5,448, 850 out of 31,241,030 Canadians) assess themselves to know both English and French, in spite of the fact that according to the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation, official bilingualism costs Canada about 16 thousand million Canadian dollars per year, including local, provincial, territorial, federal, and private sector spending (http://languagefairness.ca)(this site is somewhat prejudiced against French-speakers, but its statistical data is still valid).

This means that it costs the taxpayer an average of CAN$2936.40 per year to teach one person English successfully or hire him to offer his translation or interpretation services to the other 85% of Canadians who have failed to learn it.

Yet according to Professor Francois Grin, a specialist in language economics of the University of Geneva, Switzerland, if the EU switched to Esperanto as opposed to English as its main language of international communication, it could save the EU (including the UK and Ireland) 25 thousand million Euros per year on second-language acquisition costs alone (http://cisad.adc.education.fr/hcee/documents/rapport_Grin.pdf) (available only in French and Esperanto unfortunately)! This doesn't include translation costs saved as a result of a higher success rate owing to the language being easier to learn, helping at the same time to reduce the gap between linguistic classes (according to the same report, the EU is subsidizing the UK economy by from 17 to 18 thousand million Euros per year through second-language acquisition costs alone, in spite of the fact that the UK is the wealthiest member of the EU per capita), and helping to protect endangered languages of the EU owing to the reduced time they would need to invest in learning the common EU language, which they could then invest in their own language.

Likewise in his report, Professor Grin points out that through his investigations, he'd found that many Ministries of Education had no official second-language acquisition policy, in spite of the fact that it has such a significant impact on the international economy. And in thosse cases in which there was such a policy, it was often no longer than a paragraph long, sometimes as short as a sentence long, and usually uncritically written.

One of few exceptions to such uncritically written second-language acquisition policies is Italy's (http://www.internacialingvo.org/public/study.pdf), a 26-page-long decree (at least in its English translation), analyzing in detail the social, economic, cultural, political, and other objectives of the policy, and how how well it stands up to linguistic research. It also fully conforms to UNESCO resolutions (http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001240/124020e.pdf) and conforms to increasing international support (http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/ev.php-URL_ID=38420&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html).

Unfortunately, when I'd e-mailed the Ontario Ministry of Education inquiring about its official second-language acquisition policy, it essentially stated only that all children in Ontario must learn English and French. Beyond that, there was no explanaiton as to its objectives, no research base presented, no cost analysis, and (since no clear objective was laid out anyway) no study to show how effective the policy was fulfilling the objectives.

Machjo

16 billion dollars is alot of money. Just think of how charities could benefit if we could save even a fraction of this money and transfer it to tax rebates for charitable contributions. I'm sure UNICEF, the United Way, and many other charities could benefit from this, with more money going to the poor rather than to highly paid teachers and interpretors, not to mention that if more Canadians, especially among those who lack the necessary aptitude for second-language learning, could learn a language that was designed to be easy to learn, that more English Canadians and French Canadians could exchange their ideas directly with one another, thus helping to build more understanding and peace to bridge Canada's linguistic divide.

 

What are your thought on the economic, polical and social significance of Canada's second-language acquisition policies?

Rikardo

Very interesting. Canada and Europe are quite different in that we have two and they have 20 or something languages. Canada is so vast and the francophones are largely in one area. Even here in Quebec its surprising how few francophones are very comfortable in English. And they want films to be dubbed in French, rather than enjoying the British or American original with the subtitles if they miss something. I have family in BC and I advised them not to put the kids in immersion. Immersion costs so much and that money could be put into much better second language teaching for all. The Dutch manage and the Danes, but its so different there.

English is becoming more and more the working language of Europe, in business, government, universities and any cooperative undertaking. Something like Esperanto could be a long term solution to a very unjust situation there.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

OMFG. First bigotry as fiscal concern.

Then EsperFUCKINGanto.

Doug

If we're going to use artificial languages, why not Klingon? Cool

skarredmunkey

Thanks for this post Machjo. Very interesting. I'd strongly support moves by the provinces to make mandatory the instruction of both official languages to students in grades K-12 (my understanding is that outside of Quebec, the average requirement is only 5 years, generally grades 4 through 9). There is also the dreadfully low lack of support in this country for the preservation and continuation of Canada's numerous aboriginal languages.

I've looked into services provided by the federal and provincial governments for Anglos to learn French. They are few and far between, and as a Canadian it is really embarrassing to meet people from outside Canada who are wrongly under the impression that we can all speak both official languages. According to some french teachers I know, the main services are geared towards university students, such as the myexplore.ca summer bursary program, and subsidized French language classes for ambitious public servants. Otherwise, it seems English speaking Canadians are out of luck unless you yourself have the time, money and willingness to get private instruction, go to university, or move to Quebec/Ottawa/NB. Of course, it should not be that difficult to learn French in Canada, but it is, and the reason is that provinces (and the feds of course) don't want to invest that much in bilingualism because they think they don't have to.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Machjo wrote:

(http://languagefairness.ca)(this site is somewhat prejudiced against French-speakers, but its statistical data is still valid).

WTF?

Did you actually look at the ridiculous anonymous bullshit posted at said site? It's amazing the contortions people will go through to try to pretend their bigotry is somehow intellectually justifiable.

Good luck with fooling yourself for the rest of your miserable life. 

ClaudeB

The original poster is spewing b*llshit by the bucket.

The 2007 total education expenditures in Canada is in the neighborhood of $44 billion. So, if you believe the original poster, this would mean that 36% of all the money spent on education goes to the teaching and acquisition of a second language. I think not.

Machjo

Rikardo wrote:
Very interesting. Canada and Europe are quite different in that we have two and they have 20 or something languages. Canada is so vast and the francophones are largely in one area. Even here in Quebec its surprising how few francophones are very comfortable in English. And they want films to be dubbed in French, rather than enjoying the British or American original with the subtitles if they miss something. I have family in BC and I advised them not to put the kids in immersion. Immersion costs so much and that money could be put into much better second language teaching for all. The Dutch manage and the Danes, but its so different there. English is becoming more and more the working language of Europe, in business, government, universities and any cooperative undertaking. Something like Esperanto could be a long term solution to a very unjust situation there.

 

I fully agree. If you read La Nova Latino por la Eklezio kaj Ekumenismo, by Ulrich Matthias, you'll see that the statistics for Europe are equally dismal, with an estimate 6% of Western Europeans in 2001 believed to be at least competent in English, not even necessarily fluent! So this phenomenon is not unique to Canada. It would seem that, in spite of all the money invested in this worldwide, few really succeed in learning their second language well.

Machjo

Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:

OMFG. First bigotry as fiscal concern.

Then EsperFUCKINGanto.

 

What bigotry?

Machjo

Doug wrote:
If we're going to use artificial languages, why not Klingon? Cool

 

Unlike Klingon, Esperanto is already taught in schools in Italy, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, and the UK.

Machjo

skarredmunkey wrote:

Thanks for this post Machjo. Very interesting. I'd strongly support moves by the provinces to make mandatory the instruction of both official languages to students in grades K-12 (my understanding is that outside of Quebec, the average requirement is only 5 years, generally grades 4 through 9). There is also the dreadfully low lack of support in this country for the preservation and continuation of Canada's numerous aboriginal languages.

I've looked into services provided by the federal and provincial governments for Anglos to learn French. They are few and far between, and as a Canadian it is really embarrassing to meet people from outside Canada who are wrongly under the impression that we can all speak both official languages. According to some french teachers I know, the main services are geared towards university students, such as the myexplore.ca summer bursary program, and subsidized French language classes for ambitious public servants. Otherwise, it seems English speaking Canadians are out of luck unless you yourself have the time, money and willingness to get private instruction, go to university, or move to Quebec/Ottawa/NB. Of course, it should not be that difficult to learn French in Canada, but it is, and the reason is that provinces (and the feds of course) don't want to invest that much in bilingualism because they think they don't have to.

 

But is is it worth the money? One book I can recommend is Linguistic Imperialism by Robert Phillipson. He shows quite clearly in this book how the only people who really benefit from such a policy are the elites. Just to take Canada as an example, few Canadians will know both English and French by the end of their compulsory education. So unless we are going to make post-compulsory educaiton free, do we really have a right to force everyone in the country to learn both English and French with such a low chance of success? Many must go out to find a job after high school. Do we not want to ensure that they possess skills that will help them in their life struggle rather than just a smattering of French and English? I myself am fluent in English, French and Esperanto, can function to a certain degree in spoken Mandarin, and have studies some Arabic and Persian. But not everyone has this kind of opportunity. Is it really fair to burden those who lack the necessary apritude to learn such difficult languages?

 

Who will pay for it? We're spending an estimated 16 billion dollars annually already.

Machjo

Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:
Machjo wrote:

(http://languagefairness.ca)(this site is somewhat prejudiced against French-speakers, but its statistical data is still valid).

WTF?

Did you actually look at the ridiculous anonymous bullshit posted at said site? It's amazing the contortions people will go through to try to pretend their bigotry is somehow intellectually justifiable.

Good luck with fooling yourself for the rest of your miserable life. 

Yes, I did. That's why I'd clarified that it was prejudiced against us. Yes, us. Je suis francophone, moi aussie.

 But unfortunately, that was the only site I could find that provided any research on the question. And fair enough, it's reasonable to suppose that they might have estimated the highest possible cost too. But that still doesn't negate the research of Professor Grin (if you can read French) that estimates that the EU is subsidizing the UK economy by from 17 to 18 thousand million euros annually. Even if these figures are not exact, they still give us some idea of how expensive they really are and thus the burden they place on the backs of the poor.

 

Add to taht that according to the late Kent Jones, an estimated 15% of air crashes around the world are caused by language! Some have suggested raising the English standards for pilots. Some countries have adopted bilingual policies at their airport in the belief that it's safer if the pilot and ATC can use their mother tongues at times. The first solution would obvriously lead to political conflict as Anglos around the world woudl suddenly have first dibs at many pilot and ATC jobs. Needless to say taht might touch upon certain ethnic issues worldwide. And the danger of the second is obvious enough I beleive if you have any idea of how many planes can be flying around an airport at any given time, all with radios listening in.

Machjo

ClaudeB wrote:

The original poster is spewing b*llshit by the bucket.

The 2007 total education expenditures in Canada is in the neighborhood of $44 billion. So, if you believe the original poster, this would mean that 36% of all the money spent on education goes to the teaching and acquisition of a second language. I think not.

 

If you knew English, you would have noticed that I'd simply said that it cost us taht much, but had not specified the source. Education spending is but one source of this cost. Training for civil servants is a separate source. Then we have the hiring of translators and interpretors to fulfil legal labelling requirements!

 

There is another cost I'd come across recently, though I do not know if taht one is included. I'd met one lady in Ottawa who was having a hard time finding a job owing to her poor English skills. She'd come from central Quebec to live with her new husband. Unfortunately, the marriage hadn't worked out, and now she's stranded in Ottawa. I don't know the details as to why she chose to remain in Ottawa and not go back to her hometown, but I'm sure you can agree that her language barrier is a burden on us all. I'm not saying it's her fault, but none the less, it's a personal tragedy for her life in how it holds her back. Again, I do not know if that was counted among the costs in the calculation quoted above, but just to give you an idea of how wide-ranging the sources of these costs can be.

Machjo

Just another example of how the current Official Bilingualism policy divides us. I'm among the 15% of Canadians who know both English and French. As a result, I have access to French TV, education, radio, newspapers, websites, etc. So this way I can have access to the hearts and minds of the Quebec people. How many in this forum, besides myself, can claim the same in spite of years of education in French. Has all that times you've invested in French class paid off for you?

 

If this forums is in any way representative of Canada, then about 15% of us will be able to claim that it has. Would you ever tolerate 15% on your child's report card? So why do we tolerate it from our schools? Why not allow schools to teach an easier language as a first step towards a more just second-language acquisition policy?

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture
Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I have no interest in debating Machjo, who is clearly a foaming-at-the-mouth bigot.

He, supposedly as a francophone, recommends teaching the artificial language of esperanto (spoken by only 1,000 people natively worldwide) over the teaching of French, the mother tongue of some 6.7 million Canadians, and some 65 million people worldwide (with another 69 million speaking French as a second language, BTW).

Also to be noted - if 15% of Canadians have reasonable bilingual functionality, I'd say that equates reasonably to the 12% or so of educational budgets that get devoted to the teaching of Canada's official languages as second languages. Not that I don't think that there are some efficiencies that could be found in our processes, but nothing I've seen from Machjo indicates an honest interest in such a discussion.

saga saga's picture

I think there's a misunderstanding in this topic: Is the money in question is for providing federal government services in both English and French?

I strongly question the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's research.

* No accessible sources are provided:

1. The estimated costs of Official Bilingualism have been arrived at from a combination of government announced programs, Statistics Canada, and research and calculations since around 1995 by now retired Chartered Accountant, Jim S. Allan in Toronto, Ontario.

We are supposed to 'just believe' that this accountant understands the purposes of the various  programs and distinguishes between providing government services in French and providing instruction? I don't think so!

For example, 

3. Mr. Allan has evidence, October 9, 1999, indicating the cost to Ontario for its French Language Services Act (Bill 8) was approximately $1.305 Billion per year. This suggests that his estimate of the 10 provinces together at 50 percent of the federal cost, is likely too low.

I am pretty certain that this money is, as it says, for providing French Language (government) Services, NOT instruction. What relevance has this to how many bilingual people there are? None! ... and they've extrapolated from one province in 1999 to all provinces in 2009? Oh please!Yell

The CTF does NOT do research: They do partisan right-wing propaganda, regardless of what the data really says! Tongue out

I don't find anything worth discussing here, unless there is another point you or the CTF wants to make Machjo?

 

Machjo

saga wrote:

I think there's a misunderstanding in this topic: Is the money in question is for providing federal government services in both English and French?

I strongly question the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's research.

 

 

From my understanding, it was including all costs from all levels of governmment plus the private sector resulting from Canada's Official Bilingualism policy. As to the details as to how far-reaching the calculations went, I'm not 100% sure of the details, but it's cler that it's not just including the direct costs earmarked by the federal government. It's clearly counting all spending at all levels of government as well as private sector costs directly attributable to compliance with bilingual labelling and so on.

saga saga's picture

Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:

I have no interest in debating Machjo, who is clearly a foaming-at-the-mouth bigot.

He, supposedly as a francophone, recommends teaching the artificial language of esperanto (spoken by only 1,000 people natively worldwide) over the teaching of French, the mother tongue of some 6.7 million Canadians, and some 65 million people worldwide (with another 69 million speaking French as a second language, BTW).

Also to be noted - if 15% of Canadians have reasonable bilingual functionality, I'd say that equates reasonably to the 12% or so of educational budgets that get devoted to the teaching of Canada's official languages as second languages. Not that I don't think that there are some efficiencies that could be found in our processes, but nothing I've seen from Machjo indicates an honest interest in such a discussion.

I've seen nothing that represents the cost of instruction - only 'providing bilingual government services', and no verifiable sources.

We need better data to even start a discussion!Wink

 

Machjo

Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:

I have no interest in debating Machjo, who is clearly a foaming-at-the-mouth bigot.

He, supposedly as a francophone, recommends teaching the artificial language of esperanto (spoken by only 1,000 people natively worldwide) over the teaching of French, the mother tongue of some 6.7 million Canadians, and some 65 million people worldwide (with another 69 million speaking French as a second language, BTW).

Also to be noted - if 15% of Canadians have reasonable bilingual functionality, I'd say that equates reasonably to the 12% or so of educational budgets that get devoted to the teaching of Canada's official languages as second languages. Not that I don't think that there are some efficiencies that could be found in our processes, but nothing I've seen from Machjo indicates an honest interest in such a discussion.

 

Cher Lard, que je sois francophone ou non ne devrait avoir aucun impact sur ce discours. Tu suggère que je suis préjugé grâce a mes croyances. Tu peut croire ce que tu veut. Et si tu crois que tous ceux qui ne croient pas comme toi sont préjugés, c'est ton droit, mais dans ce cas, tu nous révèle plus à propos de toi que de moi. Comme tu veux.

 

En ce qui concerne le nombres d'espérantophones dans le monde, Jouko Lindstedt évalue par l'échelle suivante la capacité à parler l'espéranto dans la communauté espérantophone:

  • 1000 personnes ont l'espéranto comme langue maternelle
  • 10 000 personnes parlent l'espéranto couramment
  • 100 000 personnes utilisent l'espéranto de façon très active
  • 1 000 000 de personnes comprennent facilement l'espéranto
  • 10 000 000 de personnes ont étudié l'espéranto de façon plus ou moins approfondie à un moment donné.

 

Et si tu croix qu'un  taux de succès de 15% est suffisant dans une démocratie, je doit conclure que tu est pas mal  élitiste.

Machjo

Je doit mentionne aussie que le nombre d'interlocuteurs fout rien à ceux qui ne réussissent pas à bien l'apprendre.

Machjo

saga wrote:
Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:

I have no interest in debating Machjo, who is clearly a foaming-at-the-mouth bigot.

He, supposedly as a francophone, recommends teaching the artificial language of esperanto (spoken by only 1,000 people natively worldwide) over the teaching of French, the mother tongue of some 6.7 million Canadians, and some 65 million people worldwide (with another 69 million speaking French as a second language, BTW).

Also to be noted - if 15% of Canadians have reasonable bilingual functionality, I'd say that equates reasonably to the 12% or so of educational budgets that get devoted to the teaching of Canada's official languages as second languages. Not that I don't think that there are some efficiencies that could be found in our processes, but nothing I've seen from Machjo indicates an honest interest in such a discussion.

I've seen nothing that represents the cost of instruction - only 'providing bilingual government services', and no verifiable sources.

We need better data to even start a discussion!Wink

 

 

Since you're kinder, I'll use English with you. I agree that the accuracy of these figures can be legitimately questioned. After all, it's extremely difficult to measure accurately the costs when they are spread across so many levels of government, departments within the same levels of government, and the private sector, including costs ranging from elementary school education to the education of civil servants, from translation services in Parliament to labelling in the private sector. From that standpoint, Professor Grim's calculations are likley to be much more accurate as they limit themselves to the cost of educaiton only, from which we can calculate teacher salaries, books sold, tourists heading to Britain, etc. Yet even his findings are likely to be inaccurate in that it would be difficult to measure accurately what percentage of tourists to the UK are motivated primarily with travelling specifically to practice their English.

 

These studies are still preliminary, but they are growing. But regardless of whether the costs are more or less than what is quoted, we cannot deny that these are the only studies available so far, and so these are the one's we'd have to go by in making our decisions. Sometimes (nay more often than not) governments must make decisions based on the information available.  If they always expected 100% accuracy in social research, we'd never advance. Even if the costs are half of what is estimated, we still need to consider the opportunity cost to the poor, starving children of the world who don't even have access to literacy education. Or what about those who've died in those 15% of air crashes attributed to lthe language barrier. Do we just ignore those lives because we're not sure if 15% is accurate? After all, it might be only 10% or 9%. Does it matter? Money is money, and lives are lives.

 

Sometimes governments must work with the data they've got. After all, what data do they use to defend official bilingualism? Is it any more reliable?

saga saga's picture

Machjo, are you saying it would be cheaper for all Canadians and new Canadians to learn a third language than what we currently sepnd on our two official languages?

If so, I think that's absolutely ridiculous.

I am also not impressed at all with the data you presented to support your hypothesis. (See my posts above.)  It doesn't support your case for a 3rd language.

 

Also this statement is not supported:

Et si tu croix qu'un  taux de succès de 15% est suffisant dans une démocratie, je doit conclure que tu est pas mal  élitiste.

- The focus of federal funds is providing government services in both languages, not instruction

- The data for instruction funds is totally unreliable.

- 15% bilingual is neither here nor there since the focus is on providing services regardless of which language one speaks.

 

Machjo

saga wrote:

Machjo, are you saying it would be cheaper for all Canadians and new Canadians to learn a third language than what we currently sepnd on our two official languages?

If so, I think that's absolutely ridiculous.

I am also not impressed at all with the data you presented to support your hypothesis. (See my posts above.)  It doesn't support your case for a 3rd language.

 If you think bilingualism is expensive, try introducing a whole new language! Surprised

 

 

If you know French, I strongly recommend you read the Grim Report. It's acknowledged in the field of language economics as the most thorough research yet (http://cisad.adc.education.fr/hcee/documents/rapport_Grin.pdf). Granted, even Professor Grin acknowledges that this research is still preliminary, but also defends its sound base, arguing that though the exact figures are questionable, the advantage that a planned language would have is unquestionable, even from the standpoint of common sensse, which I'll clarify here.

 

According to research done by the League of Nations in 1922, it was shown that even Asian students could learn Esepranto at least 3 times faster than eitehr English or French, and that even the dullest of students could be functional in the language before the end of their compulsory education. Further reserch done by the Italian Ministry of Education in 1993 (see the link in the initial post) confirmed that Italian students could be fluent in Esperanto within six years of instruction at the latest, which confirmed similar research in the 1980's by the University of Paderborne.

 

With this in mind, it's reasonable to suppose that whereas today only about 15% of students actually succeed in learning their second official language in Canada, with the same amount of money, albeit only after a gradual transition period, we could make every single Canadian fluent in Esperanto or a similar language as a common second language, thus reducing translation costs, and also making the national labour force more mobile, able to work anywhere in the country.

 

I may have been unclear previously, wich seems to have lead you to believe that I was proposing that, as if learning one second language wasnt' enough, that students sould have to learn to second languages. That was by no means my intention (though of course students who want to learn two could). Rather, my intent was that students would still have to learn only one second language compulsorily, but that Esperanto would be added to the list schools could choose from.

Machjo

Just to take myself as an example, I'd taught myself the language to fluency within 100 hours of self-instruction.

Machjo

The following project now in operation in England might be of interest too:

 http://www.springboard2languages.org/

 

If other countries can do it, why not Canada?

saga saga's picture

Machjo wrote:
saga wrote:
Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:

I have no interest in debating Machjo, who is clearly a foaming-at-the-mouth bigot.

He, supposedly as a francophone, recommends teaching the artificial language of esperanto (spoken by only 1,000 people natively worldwide) over the teaching of French, the mother tongue of some 6.7 million Canadians, and some 65 million people worldwide (with another 69 million speaking French as a second language, BTW).

Also to be noted - if 15% of Canadians have reasonable bilingual functionality, I'd say that equates reasonably to the 12% or so of educational budgets that get devoted to the teaching of Canada's official languages as second languages. Not that I don't think that there are some efficiencies that could be found in our processes, but nothing I've seen from Machjo indicates an honest interest in such a discussion.

I've seen nothing that represents the cost of instruction - only 'providing bilingual government services', and no verifiable sources.

We need better data to even start a discussion!Wink

 

 

Since you're kinder, I'll use English with you. I agree that the accuracy of these figures can be legitimately questioned. After all, it's extremely difficult to measure accurately the costs when they are spread across so many levels of government, departments within the same levels of government, and the private sector, including costs ranging from elementary school education to the education of civil servants, from translation services in Parliament to labelling in the private sector. From that standpoint, Professor Grim's calculations are likley to be much more accurate as they limit themselves to the cost of educaiton only, from which we can calculate teacher salaries, books sold, tourists heading to Britain, etc. Yet even his findings are likely to be inaccurate in that it would be difficult to measure accurately what percentage of tourists to the UK are motivated primarily with travelling specifically to practice their English.

 Agreed ... it is difficult ... and it has not been done ... and yet the CTF draws extreme conclusions from lousy data and lousier interpretation, and you fall for it!

Quote:

These studies are still preliminary, but they are growing. But regardless of whether the costs are more or less than what is quoted, we cannot deny that these are the only studies available so far, and so these are the one's we'd have to go by in making our decisions. Sometimes (nay more often than not) governments must make decisions based on the information available.  If they always expected 100% accuracy in social research, we'd never advance.

THE CTF DOES NOT DO "SOCIAL RESEARCH" or any other kind of research. That's a total misrepresentation of what real social researchers do, and extremely offensive!

The CTF is ONLY a voice of political propaganda.

Quote:

Even if the costs are half of what is estimated, we still need to consider the opportunity cost to the poor, starving children of the world who don't even have access to literacy education. Or what about those who've died in those 15% of air crashes attributed to lthe language barrier. Do we just ignore those lives because we're not sure if 15% is accurate? After all, it might be only 10% or 9%. Does it matter? Money is money, and lives are lives.

Oh yes, now we haul out the starving and dying children. Puleez! Pretty low propaganda tactic.

Let me know when you find some data worth looking at.

Quote:

Sometimes governments must work with the data they've got. After all, what data do they use to defend official bilingualism? Is it any more reliable?

Official bilingualism is based on the desire of Canadians to be a bilingual country, respecting and preserving the minority language. It's a policy decision, nothing more.

What data do you need to support that? Certainly, not data on how many Canadians are bilingual, as that is totally irrelevant. The goal of official bilingualism is to provide services in both official languages.

You have your arguments very confused, and should not be trying to support propaganda with irrelevant data. 

Not so kind ... not if you are still not getting it!Wink

And certainly not if you are confusing real 'social research' with the crap the CTF puts out!Yell

Machjo

By the way, does anyone here know if Lard Tunderin' knows any second language? If he's ever even bothered to try to learn a second language? Or is he one of those progressive-minded types who shows his willingness to accommodate differences by speaking loudly and slowly in English, figuring that those damned foreigners where he's visiting should speak white? If English is good enough for the King James Bible, then I guess it's good enough for him.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Quote:
100 000 personnes utilisent l'espéranto de façon très active

Dans le monde, et plus que 600,000 Canadiens Anglais peuvent utiliser la langue Français dans la même façon.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

If you think it matters, I speak french, haltingly but comprehensibly.

My wife and daughters are fluently bilingual; my daughters having moved on to studying additional languages - real languages, the kind with histories and cultures.

Machjo

 Agreed ... it is difficult ... and it has not been done ... and yet the CTF draws extreme conclusions from lousy data and lousier interpretation, and you fall for it!

I agree that the source is biassed. But guess what, it's the only source I was able to find! That in itself should be cause for embarrassement. Does the federal government not research the impact of its policies, be it politically, economically, etc.? I went with the only information I could find. Can't do better than that. Then would you support the idea that the government ought to do research on this? 

 

THE CTF DOES NOT DO "SOCIAL RESEARCH" or any other kind of research. That's a total misrepresentation of what real social researchers do, and extremely offensive!

The CTF is ONLY a voice of political propaganda.

 

Fine. That still does'nt explain the research from Professor Grin. he's a professor of economics at the university of Geneva, Switzerland, and a specialist in language economics. The paper I linked you to above is on an official French government website. His research was conducted and presented at the request of the High Council for the Evaluation of Schools, a French govenment body. Now Lord in his posts above might have some issue with French speakers. But regardless of his low opinion of us, I think a link to a direct French government education website should count for something.

 

It's just a shame that all Canada has as far as research in this field is concerned is what the CTF has to offer. We play with what we've got. So why does Canada not do the same research France is doing? Do taxpayers not have a right to know how efficient our policies are?

Oh yes, now we haul out the starving and dying children. Puleez! Pretty low propaganda tactic.

Let me know when you find some data worth looking at.

Quote:

 

As mentioned above, the Grin report should be wroth something. He estimates a potential saving of at least 25 thousand million euros annually just for education costs alone (unlike the CTF, he did not include translation and other costs). So I think we have a figure worth looking at right there. Are you going to deny that we could help alot of people with 25 thousand million euros a year? And that's just the EU for second language education alone! Imagine how much Canada could save. Do you honestly think that if we are aware of such gross inefficiencies that we should turn a blind eye to them?

 

Or maybe it has to do with my mindset. I'm a vegan, I like organic foods, and I walk or cycle as much as possible, as part of my belief that my every action affects everything else. And so I extend that same thinking pattern to language (i.e. the more efficient language policy is, the more money is saved for other issues). I know that in our meat-eating, gas-guzzling society, in which each issue is compartmentalized (i.e. food, transport, the environment, language, poverty, etc. are each separate things having no impact on one another), my relating language issues to poverty (money saved to help the poor), safety (more precise grammar to save lives by reducing air crashes), ecology (by saving on paper from reproduction in different languages), and peace (though more efficient communication between different ethnic groups) would come across as propaganda earning about the same mockery as PETA. Well, that is a difference in phylosophies and there is nothing I can do about that. We veg-heads are used to mockery and we just accept it.

 

Official bilingualism is based on the desire of Canadians to be a bilingual country, respecting and preserving the minority language. It's a policy decision, nothing more.

 It's a fine desire, but like I said, an expensive one that drains resources from other causes. In my mind, strange at it might seem to the typical compartmentalized Caandian mind, this has an impact on other social justice issues too, including peace, justice and poverty. So yes, I do view language policy as a justice issue.

What data do you need to support that? Certainly, not data on how many Canadians are bilingual, as that is totally irrelevant. The goal of official bilingualism is to provide services in both official languages.

Alors palons en  français d'abord. Selon moi, c'est quoi le point de gaspiller tant d'argent sur le bilinguisme officiel quand tres peut de gens l'apprennent bien du tout. Est-ce que ca contribue vraiment a la communication, a la justice, a la paix et a l'unite Canadienne?

 You have your arguments very confused, and should not be trying to support propaganda with irrelevant data. 

 Bon, peut-etre que tu a raison. Mais dans ce cas la, ne doit-tu pas defendre le bilinguisme officiel de ton cote?

 

Machjo

Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:

If you think it matters, I speak french, haltingly but comprehensibly.

My wife and daughters are fluently bilingual; my daughters having moved on to studying additional languages - real languages, the kind with histories and cultures.

C'est bon, ca. mais est-ce tu vas payer pour l'education des autres aussie? Si non, n'est-ce pas que ceux qui n'on pas acces a une tel education devraient avoir la chance d'apprendre une langue seconde aussie? Ne devraient-ils pas eux aussie de communique avec le monde?

 

Et juste une autre chause. Le ministere de 'leducation hongrois a deja dit bien clairement que l'esperanto meme est une langue vivante.

Dogbert

C'mon LTJ, how about giving this guy just a little benefit of the doubt? So far, his crimes are:

1. He linked to a CTF study, and

2. He has some "out there" ideas about language education.

And based on this, he's an anti-French bigot? He's not exactly our bagpipe-loving friend from the other day.

The whole point of using Esperanto is that it doesn't have cultural or historical baggage, so unlike learning more "natural" languages, you don't have to worry about losing your culture to that of the other language. And from what I've read, it's easier to learn because unlike natural languages, it's designed to have rules without exceptions you have to memorise.

This strikes me as being one of those ideas that's so crazy, it just might work. I can't see it actually ever happening, but it's interesting enough to be worth not just dismissing it out of hand.

Machjo

Just another point for those who distinguish language policy from justice. Here is a quote from the British Council' Annual Report of 1983-84 (not ancient hisotry here):

 

Of course we do not have the power we once had to impose our will but Britain's influence endures, out of all proportion to her economic and military resources. This is partly because the English language is the lingua franca of science, technology, and commerce; the demand for it is insatiable and we respond either through the education systems of "host" countries or, when the market can stand it, on a commercial basis. Our language is our greatest asset, greater than Borth Sea Oil, and the supply is inexhaustible; furthermore, while we do not have a monopoly, our particular brand remains highly sought after. I am glad to say that those who guide the fortunes of this country share my conviction in the need to invest in, and exploit to the full, this invisible, God-given asset.
(British Council Annual Report 1983-89:9, as quoted on pages 144-145 of Linguistic Imperialism)

 

I think this should make clear where we're going with English as an international language, essentially just a money maker for wealthy countries.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Dogbert wrote:

C'mon LTJ, how about giving this guy just a little benefit of the doubt? So far, his crimes are:

1. He linked to a CTF study, and

2. He has some "out there" ideas about language education.

And based on this, he's an anti-French bigot?

 

If he was promoting Esperanto as a third language, for worldwide use, rather than denigrating the progress towards bilingualism in Canada made in the generation and a half since Pearson, I'd have had more tolerance.

He's gone from claiming to be francophone to claiming to be bilingual, self-taught in a mere 100 hours. I don't see fluency, though he does pump out reasonably intelligible posts quite quickly. I'll certainly grant him that his French seems superior to his logic. 

saga saga's picture

Machjo wrote:
saga wrote:

Machjo, are you saying it would be cheaper for all Canadians and new Canadians to learn a third language than what we currently sepnd on our two official languages?

If so, I think that's absolutely ridiculous.

I am also not impressed at all with the data you presented to support your hypothesis. (See my posts above.)  It doesn't support your case for a 3rd language.

 If you think bilingualism is expensive, try introducing a whole new language! Surprised

 

 

If you know French, I strongly recommend you read the Grim Report. It's acknowledged in the field of language economics as the most thorough research yet (http://cisad.adc.education.fr/hcee/documents/rapport_Grin.pdf). Granted, even Professor Grin acknowledges that this research is still preliminary, but also defends its sound base, arguing that though the exact figures are questionable, the advantage that a planned language would have is unquestionable, even from the standpoint of common sensse, which I'll clarify here.

 

According to research done by the League of Nations in 1922, it was shown that even Asian students could learn Esepranto at least 3 times faster than eitehr English or French, and that even the dullest of students could be functional in the language before the end of their compulsory education. Further reserch done by the Italian Ministry of Education in 1993 (see the link in the initial post) confirmed that Italian students could be fluent in Esperanto within six years of instruction at the latest, which confirmed similar research in the 1980's by the University of Paderborne.

 

With this in mind, it's reasonable to suppose that whereas today only about 15% of students actually succeed in learning their second official language in Canada, with the same amount of money, albeit only after a gradual transition period, we could make every single Canadian fluent in Esperanto or a similar language as a common second language, thus reducing translation costs, and also making the national labour force more mobile, able to work anywhere in the country.

"Reasonable to suppose" ? I don't think so! The money you are 'comparing' is not even not for instruction but for providing government services in English and French! Your argument ... or supposition ... makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

 

Quote:

I may have been unclear previously, wich seems to have lead you to believe that I was proposing that, as if learning one second language wasnt' enough, that students sould have to learn to second languages. That was by no means my intention (though of course students who want to learn two could). Rather, my intent was that students would still have to learn only one second language compulsorily, but that Esperanto would be added to the list schools could choose from.

Still makes no sense.

I can't read French well enough to get much out of the 'Grim' study you cite. I'm not opposed to another choice of languages to learn, but I am strongly opposed to your suggestions that we remove funding for services in both official languages of Canada to apply it to learning this new language. There are no savings.

Remember: You are dealing with people and things they hold dear. There are many more issues than $$, and those human issues will chew up a lot of money before you'll get anywhere with your new language.

 Now, iof you had only proposed that Esperanto be provided as another language in school, adult ed, etc. I could agree. But this distorted political propaganda approach, misuing and abusing data, well ... that just makes me see red!!

Maybe you need to get a better handle on your proposal, and stop flinging dirt at other programs and services, hm?

It's not like it will replace anything currently in place in Canada: It's an add-on.

There are no savings. 

 

Dogbert

He said he learned Esperanto in 100 hours, not French or English.

And from where I sit, in the middle of the praries, our bilingual education isn't working terribly well. Hell, most everyone I know, despite going through the required core French in school, couldn't even read the French on this thread. Myself included. 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I don't know where you want to go. Is your point that bilingual education has room for improvement? If so, I can agree.

But if you're agreeing with the opening poster that Esperanto makes more sense for Canadians than French/Anglais second language education, I'll once again have to put it down to ignorance and bigotry.

Machjo

"Reasonable to suppose" ? I don't think so! The money you are 'comparing' is not even not for instruction but for providing government services in English and French! Your argument ... or supposition ... makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Yes, it is. Isn't the fact that the Federal Government has to spend on bilingual services a tacit admission of the failure of provincial and territorial Ministries of Education of ensuring that all Canadian children can communicate with one another by the end of their secondary education? If we could gradually introduce an easier second language that all children can learn well before the end of their compulsory education, then we wouldn't have these expenses. I think that's common sense.

 

Just to take another example. Check out the Statistics Canada page I'd linked to in the OP. About 8% of Nunnavummiut know neither English nor French. Now don't tell me that 8% of Nunnavummiut are immigrants. Few would want to immigrate that far North. That might explain why Nunavut has four official languages (English, French, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun). We have real poverty over there, and yet their government has to spend money translating everything into four friggin' languages because students are failing to learn either Frnehc or English (we're not even talking about learning both, but just one of them). Don't you think those of us of European descent could be a little more compassionate to their plight? Remember, their languages are very different from our European ones, grammatically, etymologically, etc. So it should come as no surprise that 8% fail to learn either. Don't you think we of European descent coudl at least reach out just half way by learning an easier language that might be within their grasp too, rather than just sitting ou our Euro-caucasian high horses?

 As far as I'm concerned, if the governments fail so miserably that these people cannot even learn one of our official languages, how are these people to have access to federal government services? The federal government functions in French and English only. They know neither; they're screwed. What are we to say: Go back to where you came from? Kinda hard when they've been here longer than we have.

 Sure they have access to quadrilingual services from their territorial government, but aren't they Canadian citizens? Just thing to ponder. How do they read their ballot? Can they run in an election? If they win, will have have an interpreter handy in Parliament, or are we gonna tell them to bugger off cause they're not European enough?

 

 

I can't read French well enough to get much out of the 'Grim' study you cite. I'm not opposed to another choice of languages to learn, but I am strongly opposed to your suggestions that we remove funding for services in both official languages of Canada to apply it to learning this new language. There are no savings.

 Now I see the misunderstanding. Of course I'm not proposing removing bilingual federal services in the mean time. In fact, I'd add Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun to make sure the Inuit have full access to our democracy too, if that means anything. But for the long term, why not give schools the freedom to teach Esperanto now so that in a generation from now the federal government finally could cut bilingual or even quadrilingual services and just have all services in a common easy-to-learn language. This would allow for both democracy and fiscal frugality. Right now, we have official bilingualism in two difficult languages, which is neither frugal nor democratic for the 8% of Nunnavummiut who don't know either of our European languages. Considering they've been here thousands of years before us, don't you think we have a responsibility to make sure democracy works for them too? So essentially I'm suggesting that in the short term we do what we have to do to ensure access to democracy for all, regardless of the cost. But recognizing that this is just inefficient, and that to make it democratic we must add some isolated Inuit languages to our list of official languages, which just makes it even more expensive, we need a long-term plan at the same time that will allow us in future to adopt a simultaneously more efficient and more democratic option than we have now.

 

You say you don't know French. Isn't that a tacit acknowledgement that the education system has failed you too? I know both languages fluently, so I have a better idea of what's going on on the French side. And believe me, many of them fail to learn English too. We're a nation whose hearts and mindas are cut off by at languages, not just French and English, but Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun too.

Remember: You are dealing with people and things they hold dear. There are many more issues than $$, and those human issues will chew up a lot of money before you'll get anywhere with your new language.

Well, obvriously those 8% of Nunavummiut who know neither of our official languages are among the things we hold dear, nor is their access to federal services, otherwise their languages shoudl be added to the list of official languages too. But alas, not European enough. 

 

Now, iof you had only proposed that Esperanto be provided as another language in school, adult ed, etc. I could agree. But this distorted political propaganda approach, misuing and abusing data, well ... that just makes me see red!!

Well, this just confirms my discovery in the paragraph above (i.e. that there was a misunderstanding), because that was essentially what I was getting at in a round about way. My idea was that in the long run, as Esperanto or similar language spreads, we could eventually eliminate official bilingualism at a later date, maybe let's say a generation from now. Or maybe more. But at this jusncture, I think just adding Esperanto to the list of elective languages would be an appropriate start, especially in the North where clearly our european languages are inaccessible to much of the population. 

 

Maybe you need to get a better handle on your proposal, and stop flinging dirt at other programs and services, hm?

It's not like it will replace anything currently in place in Canada: It's an add-on.

There are no savings. 

 

Again, all this confirms the original misunderstanding that's now been discovered. But as for savings, I think I've made it quite celar that our education system is even failing to get some Canadians to learn either language well, let alone both.

 

Machjo

Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:
Dogbert wrote:

C'mon LTJ, how about giving this guy just a little benefit of the doubt? So far, his crimes are:

1. He linked to a CTF study, and

2. He has some "out there" ideas about language education.

And based on this, he's an anti-French bigot?

 

If he was promoting Esperanto as a third language, for worldwide use, rather than denigrating the progress towards bilingualism in Canada made in the generation and a half since Pearson, I'd have had more tolerance.

He's gone from claiming to be francophone to claiming to be bilingual, self-taught in a mere 100 hours. I don't see fluency, though he does pump out reasonably intelligible posts quite quickly. I'll certainly grant him that his French seems superior to his logic. 

 

Yeah, and bilingualism really paid off for those 8% in Nunavut who know neither language. But why should I care? I'm fluent in three languages, including French and English. And as for accents in French, when I'm typing fast sometimes I choose to skip them.

 

As for your logic, let's just spend ever more money and maybe we'll finally get 'those savages' up north to finally speak white?

Machjo

Dogbert wrote:

He said he learned Esperanto in 100 hours, not French or English.

And from where I sit, in the middle of the praries, our bilingual education isn't working terribly well. Hell, most everyone I know, despite going through the required core French in school, couldn't even read the French on this thread. Myself included. 

 

Exactly. He needs to ibrush up on his English before he starts promoting inefficient Official Bilingualism policies.

Machjo

Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:

I don't know where you want to go. Is your point that bilingual education has room for improvement? If so, I can agree.

But if you're agreeing with the opening poster that Esperanto makes more sense for Canadians than French/Anglais second language education, I'll once again have to put it down to ignorance and bigotry.

 

So it's bigotted now to consider the interests of Canada' Northern populations who are so isolated from either language? Note to self: caring for the non-Europeans among us is bigotry?

Michelle

He has not said anything about "savages" up north, and you're not allowed to use ironic racism to make your points here, Machjo - especially when you're falsely attributing such racism to someone else here.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Machjo misrepresents Prof. Grin as seriously as he does me.

The esteemed professor sees real, measurable value in living languages.

Machjo

Michelle wrote:
He has not said anything about "savages" up north, and you're not allowed to use ironic racism to make your points here, Machjo - especially when you're falsely attributing such racism to someone else here.

 Yes, I was out of line. I simply blew up at the accusation out of nowhere for reasons taht are still beyond me. Is it common for him to just run around calling everyone a bigot for no good reason? is that how his parents raised him?

Machjo

Lard Tunderin' Jeezus wrote:

Machjo misrepresents Prof. Grin as seriously as he does me.

The esteemed professor sees real, measurable value in living languages.

Who ever said that there is no value in real, living languages? I know a few languages myself, thank you very much. My concern is not for the elites who have the chance to learn a second, third, etc. national tongue. My concern was for those who don't have the same opportunity. When I was in China (i'm competent enough in mandarin too, by the way,at least in the spoken language), I'd talked to lots of people. many don't have a chance to go on to high school, yet they still have to learn English. They live in abject poverty yet still have to spend money on Oxford dictionaries for a language that will be of no use to them unless they should go on to university? It's nice when your mother tongue is so international. But why not have csome heart for the less fortunate. Are you going to pay for their education, or do you just want to force your own language on them at their own expense?

 

Nobody's denying the value in learning other national tongues... after basic principles of justice are met in society.

 

And if you read the whole Gren Report, you'll see that he sees no contradiction between preserving national tongues and adopting an international one. Each serves its respective purpose. Do you really think that it should be the governmetn's priority to have all Canadians speak both English and French when some Canadians speak neither?

Machjo

http://lingvo.org/GRIN_en.pdf

The quotes presented in this petition in no way conflict with what you have presented above. Espearnto is seen as an extension of language rights, as a way of placing
the local indigenous language on an equal playing field, thus giving minority language groups such as the Inuit equal access to the nation's economic resources, rather than give a systemic and legislated distinct advantage to native speakers of the country's european languages.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I have no time to talk with conventional bigots, let alone liars and loony-tunes - I simply point out their mendacity and illogical leaps. Speaking of which, here's yet another strawman:

Quote:
Do you really think that it should be the governmetn's priority to have all Canadians speak both English and French when some Canadians speak neither?

Which government of Canada has ever stated such a priority? 

saga saga's picture

Machjo,

You have your own agenda, but you blew any chance of real discussion by attacking programs already funded and in existencew and dear to many Canadians. You DID say that the money spent on them could be better spent on Esperanto, thus suggesting that those programs would cease to exist. That is why you are getting such emotional responses.

 Read your own posts! and you will see that you set yourself up to be attacked because you attacked existing programs.

Also, it is the height of arrogance to assume that you know better than (eg) the Inuit what language they 'should' use.  Again, by suggesting that Esperanto should REPLACE other languages, you are attacking different cultures, and we won't tolerate that here.

Why don't you just stick to promoting its advantages as a ADD-ON, which it would be. I see no problem with another choice.

I DO see a problem with you setting yourself up as the arbitrator of who can speak what language, though. That's just cultural ignorance bordering on bigotry and racism, as clearly identified by other posters here. (Who made you a god?)

DO YOU UNDERSTAND NOW?

In fact, you set your pet Esperanto up for failure as an idea, by attacking other languages and cultures and institutions to which most Canadians are very attached. You have created a groundswell of anti-Esperanto. Was that your purpose? Because that's what you have done.

 

 

Sean in Ottawa

sorry double post

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