And in that sense the spending and the above evaluation are out of whack. We spend a lot in duplicating materials in both languages and the provision of service in both languages and I would say that for the most part this is working and necessary but it would not be newsworthy to say we spend a lot on providing service in both languages and guess what we actually do that. It is unreasonable to apply the entire budgets of three objectives (the first the provision of services in both languages, second the official translation of records and documents and third the education of a second language) to an evaluation of only one, and indeed the least costly of the three. Those who prepared the report and press release knew or ought to have known that their figures were misleading by including the costs of official translation, provision of services and education. Further the cost of provision and translation in many budgets includes production costs that otherwise would have been applied in part anyway to a unilingual production. (For example if you do two books totally 50,000 copies and 10,000 are in French, it is unreasonable to assume that the entire cost of the French edition is a cost of bilingualism since if everyone spoke English you would then be doing 50,000 English rather than 40,000 but many budgets put the entire cost of provision to French users of documents as a cost of bilingualism.The reason is these projects are not quoted or broken down to identify the DIFFERENCE between the run on of one language and the separate edition in a different language.) I suspect that the comparisons to overseas are like comparing chickens to oranges.
I have to disagree. I believe that it is quite reasonable to include all non-education related costs, including translation and interpretation, on the following grounds. If we could ensure that all succeeded in learning a common second language, well, this woudl in fact reduce the need for translation and interpretation considerably. This gets back to my point bere that Canadians tend to compartmentalize things, making them unable to see relationships. Yes, my focus of the thread is on reforming second-language education and not translation policy. But it goes without saying that if more of the population were bilingual, the cost of translators would go down owing to supply and demand, and the need for translators would drop. So we'd see both a drop in demand for interpretors and a rise in the supply. Needless to say this would have a spinoff effect across the economic system well beyond just education. Again, we have to stop compartmentalizing things so much.
As a Canadian I find it offensive to question essentials in this way since we do not have a single budget to draw accurate information and such a line of question can easily lead to bigotry.
If you have a better source of data, please let me know. Trust me, I'd tried to avoid the CTF info because I knew that it could be biassed. But guess what, it seems they're in fact in the lead in Canada as far as this kind of info is concerned.
That said, it is a problem that our population is not more bilingual. There are specific measures that could be done to get more value but these would involve spending more rather than less. I think all adults who wish language training ought to be able to get it for free and that current schools can be organized to provide such training in evenings etc.
Now I might be able to agree with something here. Let's suppose that every school was banned from making any second language compulsory unless it could guarantee a reasonable chance of success, then I might be able to agree with it. Bear in mind though that this would push schools into a corner. They could either just stop making a second language compulsory in school, offer an easier alternative like Esperanto, or ask the Ministry of education for more money to improve their second-language acquisition programme. This would also put pressure on Ministries of Education. They would be forced to make a choice between simply allowing schools to not teach any second language any more, offering easier alternative second languages, or giving them more money. I beleive that any of these three options would be a step forward from what we have now, with schools forcing students to sit in second-language classes, with a low chance of success, and insufficient resources to raise the chance of success to a reasonable level. Bear in mind though that this would also involve convincing the public to accept a tax hike ot pay for this. Nothing is free after all. But if the public were willing to pay more taxes, maybe I could go with your idea.
Second, the standards for second language training, the materials they use, the importance within the curriculum and the support provided is pathetically out of touch with our national reality. I live in Ottawa and was shocked to learn how low an expectation they have for French in spite of the fact that employment in this city is usually conditional on bilingualism.
This is not uniques to Canada. According to a survey in Western Europe in 2001, only about 6% of Western Europeans are functional in English. Vivianne Redding had stated that it was not even realistic to expect the entire European population to become bilingual (right now it's estimated from 44 to 54% of EU citizens are bilingual in their mother-tongue plus a second language, usually a neighbour-language). So do you think the EU simply under-funds its second-language programmes? They have much more experience in this than we do, which might explain the EU's more progressive stance on this.
I also believe that the lack of freely available second language training to adults and the low delivery of it to minors is feeding resentment by people coming out of the system unequipped for life in a bilingual country. However it is not the need for bilingualism that should be questioned but the inadequate preparation of our population for it.
I can agree to this. If a school can guarantee a reasonable chance of success, then by all means should it be allowed to make a second-language compulsory. Otherwise it has no moral right to waste students' time and money if it can't guarantee a reasonable chance of success.
Finally, I can address the cost of provision of services in at least one way where we can get better value. It used to be cheaper to produce one longer "flip" publication in both languages rather than two editions one in each language. However as preproduction costs have gone down and paper, ink and running have gone up this is no longer the case. I think government could save money by producing more "two separate language editions" than bilingual ones. In other words we might find efficiencies in delivery. I do not want to see any compromises to the value of provision of services and frankly that would not change no matter what the cost. Show me how to do it at less cost-- fine but don't argue that we should not do it.
Right now, with many French Canadians not knowing English, many Englsih Canadians not knowing French, and some northern Canadians knowing neither, I don't think there is an easy solution on the service-side of things, and for that reason am quite open to any solution that minimizes the damage done by our school systems. But if we're talking about a comprehensive long-term solution, it must include a plan to make all citizens fluent in a common second language, thus eliminating the need for linguistic damage control. But for that, we have to either be prepared to instcrease spending considerably whie giving access to all, or alternatively to do like Italy and some Eastern European countries and the UK, and look for a more rational and efficient long-term alternative.
Another unrelated point-- we also need to be spending more to protect first nation languages that are disappearing while we argue about things that ought to be recognized as fundamental to who we are.Or, to put it another way, will these right wing idiots kindly calculate the cost both economic and social of NOT being bilingual, of not providing those services to our entire population, of educating even fewer into a second language than we do now. The cost would exceed the current spending and would drive at the soul of our country as well as at its business and budgets.
I fully agree with this. Rather than wasting money funding former imperial languages from Europe, the priority should be on promoting aboriginal languages. But a common second-language designed to be easy to learn can contribute to this too. After all, how much time must First Naitons spend in school learning English and French? If they could learn an easier second language in school, then they could spend the rest of their time learning and developing their mother-tongue instead, with English and French being reserved for those who have an apritude for language learning.