Quebec has right to force immigrants to learn French, says NDP...

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Fidel

I must admit to being unaware of that person's gender. I meant no sexism by it and retract any and all sexist remarks.

Michelle

Ah, okay, didn't know you didn't realize she was a woman.  It sounded like a parody of a pick-up line to me, which is why I interpreted it that way.

Thanks for clarifying and retracting.

Unionist

Michelle wrote:

Sorry, but I'm not shutting down this conversation just because you don't like it or don't agree with it.

You're defending this Québec-bashing character? You think Québec-bashing is more honourable than misogyny or racism? Who the hell asked you to "shut down this conversation" anyway? You're shutting down my defence of the rights of the Québec nation, so that she can hurl her putrid shit around with impunity?

Well, congratulations to her and you both. She finally got to me, with her nonstop flood of manure. You must both be extremely happy. Why not go out for a drink or something. Then go read a fucking book about what it means to be progressive. Your blind spot about Québec is really problematic. But you know, that really is your problem.

Fidel

Unionist, quick! Edit that post and let's be off like a terd of hurdles. 

Unionist

Michelle wrote:

Fidel wrote:

InfoSaturated likes sex and travel, I can tell.

This is sexist and out of line.  Cut it out.

SEXIST? You're attacking Fidel? You have a serious problem telling right from wrong.

Unionist

Fidel wrote:

Unionist, quick! Edit that post and let's be off like a terd of hurdles. 

I'm not editing anything, Fidel, but thanks for the thought. This will be a lovely board. Perhaps Infosaturated can be named Chief Moderator.

 

Unionist

I have not breathed one goddam word against Michelle, who is the best there is, in my 4 years here. But this is really the limit. How dare you.

 

Michelle

Unionist, seriously, chill out.  This is my workplace, and I don't appreciate you hurling abuse at me (or other people here).

I'm not shutting down your "defence" of Quebec - I'm calling you on your attacking tone and your posts telling other people to "ignore" the discussion.  Defend Quebec all you want, just do it without personally attacking people.

This is the remark from you that looked to me like you were saying the moderators should be shutting this discussion down (complete with the implication that the moderators aren't doing our jobs - thanks for that, by the way):

Quote:

This is baiting and provocation of the lowest kind which should be shunned on a progressive board. Perhaps one day the moderators here will grasp that truth and act upon it.

Unionist

All right, I'll go chill out, and I don't mean to harass you. But let me know when the baiting about Québec, the flood of vituperation about sex workers, and the repugnant comments about Hitler and the "Holocaust" will abate. Or rather, when you will take some action on these issues. I'm trying to figure out a polite way to say this, but I guess I'm in no shape to do it right now. I'll try again tomorrow.

 

E.Tamaran

Unionist wrote:

Michelle wrote:

Sorry, but I'm not shutting down this conversation just because you don't like it or don't agree with it.

You're defending this Québec-bashing character? You think Québec-bashing is more honourable than misogyny or racism? Who the hell asked you to "shut down this conversation" anyway? You're shutting down my defence of the rights of the Québec nation, so that she can hurl her putrid shit around with impunity?

Well, congratulations to her and you both. She finally got to me, with her nonstop flood of manure. You must both be extremely happy. Why not go out for a drink or something. Then go read a fucking book about what it means to be progressive. Your blind spot about Québec is really problematic. But you know, that really is your problem.

This is abuse against a moderator. Mod alerted, and words preserved for evidence.

Unionist

E.Tamaran wrote:

This is abuse against a moderator. Mod alerted, and words preserved for evidence.

My lawyer would like to know what time the trial starts? Oh, welcome to babble.

 

Michelle

Yeah, you're kind of late to the party, E.Tamaran - I think Unionist and I pretty much had it in hand already.  I appreciate your support, but I don't want a pile-on happening to a babbler I generally respect a lot.

No trial, Unionist.  Thanks for the truce.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Unionist wrote:
It is amazing to see this nonstop pathetic flood and barrage of attacks on the rights of the Québec people to determine their own national language.

 

It's not so black and white, is it, because the Québec people also includes the English.

ETA:  oops. my bad - yes I meant Anglophones.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Infosaturated wrote:

Did you miss the part where xenophobia in rural Quebec is worse than anywhere else in Canada due to isolation and manipulation in the interests of elites?

And Unionist gets taken to task???

Infosaturated

RevolutionPlease wrote:

Infosaturated wrote:

Did you miss the part where xenophobia in rural Quebec is worse than anywhere else in Canada due to isolation and manipulation in the interests of elites?

Given the manner in which I have been addressed I don't find the above unreasonable in response. I was born in Ville LaSalle, I have lived in Lachine, Chateauguay and the Plateau.  With the exception of less than a year I have lived in Quebec all my life. I both love and am proud of my province. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. My entire bloodline on both sides of my family is French and First Nations.  I have every right to criticize the politics of my province and my country without being accused of "bashing".

http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=8c076412-2903-4...

That solution: amend the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to ban all kinds of religious accommodations, and if that doesn't work, then separate Quebec from the federation to allow it to amend its own human rights code.

Note, the above is not about language, it's about culture. I do understand xenophobia is not limited to Quebec towns within Canada. Nevertheless I find the this pretty uniquely extreme for a town that doesn't even have any immigrant residents. Xenophobia is fear-based.

Consequently, we consider as undesirable and prohibit any action or gesture that would be contrary to the above statement such as: killing women by lapidation or burning them alive in public places, burning them with acid, excising them, infibulating them or treating them as slaves. Out of respect for women and in order to ease the application of civil laws on divorce, polygamy is prohibited in Quebec. Also, a marriage or a divorce only becomes legal if it was carried out in accordance with the Quebec laws in force.

* Kosher or halal food: "No other organization (but government) can certify a food product and pass on certification costs to consumers."

* Prisons: "When incarcerated for not respecting the established state laws, criminals are considered as having disobeyed their own religious laws. Consequently, civil and religious liberties are abrogated inside prison walls. Being funded by taxpayers, atheists or believers, prisons serve the same meals to everyone at normal hours, with certain exceptions allowed for medical considerations. The objectives here are to control costs, simplify detention procedures, and provide efficient services. In addition, there are no areas allocated for prayer."

Five other towns, after this became public, stated they were considering adopting the same principles. The Bouchard-Tayor commission turned up embarassingly widespread xeonphobia which I consider distinct from racism. I don't think Quebec is particularly racist.  I think it is pretty naive to suggest that politicians and business people don't manipulate the masses for their own ulterior motives. Maybe I'm just cynical, but it's pretty much a given to me. Whether it be financial or political elites I always examine their actions for ulterior motivations or simple political expediency. I do believe some politicians sometimes act in the best interests of people, or what they believe to be in the best interests of their people, I just don't take it for granted.

I do not think it is a stretch to suggest that the feeding of nationalistic furvor and fear of assimilation suited Quebec politicians.  Same goes for the Harper retoric concerning the Liberals and NDP working with the Bloc. He was trying to use Canadian hostility against separatism to his benefit and to the detriment of Canadian unity.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Sorry dude, you don't get to say that.  Sadly, I can point to much xenophobia worse than Herouxville but have at it, EH?

Machjo

Infosaturated wrote:

Machjo wrote:
Have you looked up the statistics for Europe? They fare no better than we do as far as bilingualism is concerned, statistically-speaking. And as for language being a political tool in Quebec, where exactly is it not a political tool? Europe has just as many language issues as we do, if not more! perhaps you need to rethink your arguments. English is mainly a language of the elites in Europe as it is in Quebec.

That would seem to me all the more reason to support the rights of people to have access to English education for their children even if they are not part of the elite. 

Also, part of my point is that dealing with only two languages, English and French, is not that complicated. To be unable to speak English in North America is a severe handicap.

Statistics prove you wrong. According to StatsCan 2006, the majority of French Canadians fail to learn their second language well, as is the case with English Canadians learning French. I know both languages, but to say that learning both languages is easy because I've done it would be like an Olympic acrobat saying that it would be perfectly safe to expect students to be able to climb the school walls to the second story of their school because he can do it. You can't judge social issues based on what you alone can achieve. You must judge it based on what is within the reach of the general population. English is not an easy language to learn, and so to expect all Quebecers to learn it could only marginalize those who fail to learn it. A logical solution to ensure democratic access to all is to chose one language and make sure all learn it, whatever it takes. If French were easy to learn, learning it as a second language in school would suffice. Since it isn't easy to learn, therefore it must be taught more intensively.

The same applies to English by the way. The most efficient system is in fact what the Bloc and the PQ (and no I'm not a sovereignist by the way), and now the NDP to some degree, have said time and again, that for any local community to establish a sense of unity, it must share a common language. If that language is easy enough to learn, it could be taught as a common second language, otherwise it must be taught as a common first language. Since neither English nor French are particularly easy to learn, therefore it woudl make sense to choose one or the other to serve as the common language. In Quebec, a logical enough solution to to adopt French for the purpose.

Infosaturated

RevolutionPlease wrote:
Sorry dude, you don't get to say that.  Sadly, I can point to much xenophobia worse than Herouxville but have at it, EH?

I can be wrong. I hope in this case I'm not wrong because I find the views in Quebec quite shocking enough as it is. I realize there are some pretty, hmmm, wacked out? sorts out west but I don't know of any of those communities coming out with official positions that it's citizens accepted. Rather, I percieve it to be extremists within communities.  I have to admit if the rest of Canada is just as bad I'm not sure I want to know.

Infosaturated

Machjo wrote:
Statistics prove you wrong. According to StatsCan 2006, the majority of French Canadians fail to learn their second language well, as is the case with English Canadians learning French.

You are echoing the information I presented. The current school system in Quebec is failing everyone, French and English. A 50% rate of failure to graduate from high school has very serious ramifications for the future. English Quebeckers are achieving French/English bilingual ability at higher rates than the French but it remains true that many English students take half their courses in French and yet still do not feel comfortable speaking French when they leave school. This is not because French is overwhelmingly difficult to learn.

Machjo wrote:
You can't judge social issues based on what you alone can achieve. You must judge it based on what is within the reach of the general population. English is not an easy language to learn, and so to expect all Quebecers to learn it could only marginalize those who fail to learn it. 

Not everyone can learn math either but we don't avoid teaching math because not everyone will get it.  The elite of Quebec almost all master English to some degree, usually to a high level. I don't think they are smarter than the lower and middle class French people.

Machjo wrote:
... Since neither English nor French are particularly easy to learn, therefore it woudl make sense to choose one or the other to serve as the common language. In Quebec, a logical enough solution to to adopt French for the purpose.

I agree. I am in favor of the language laws in Quebec requiring the use of French as the working language in businesses and in protecting the primacy of the French language on signs etc. I don't think there should be an English school board. It is not at all necessary to have the goal of perfect fluency in both French and English. But, most people of average intelligence are perfectly capable of achieving basic functionality in a second language.

I think there should be one school system and that it should be primarily French. I have studied educational pyschology and second language teaching. There are key points at which infants and young children must be introduced to the sounds of foreign languages even if they don't actually learn the language at that time.  Infants learn to distinguish sounds in the first six months of life.  It is not impossible to learn as an older child, or as an adult, but it is far far more difficult.  Sound recognition as well as pronunciation correlates to mother tongue because our ears are trained to hear the sounds of that particular language, and our mouths learn to formulate those sounds. Children who learn two languages from birth generally master both with ease.

Another important concept is motivation. People learn speech in order to communicate something they want to communicate and that motivation is intrinsic not extrinsic. That is, teaching math in French isn't as effective as showing a movie popular with a particular age group. Teaching a five year old to say "want to play ball?" is far more effective than teaching a five year old to say 1 plus 1 is 2. Nevertheless, teaching a five year old to say "want to play ball?" is still useless if that child doesn't know someone English with whom they want to play ball. There is no communicative purpose under those conditions.

Recently a 3 year pilot project of selected students (50/50 French/English) experimented with alternating French and English instruction for half the year each of the three years. It was very successful.

Setting up the ideal circumstances for second language learning is impossible but it is not impossible to get closer. The practice of preventing the teaching of English prior to 3rd grade is the worst possible policy.  Doing preschool and kindergarden or even grade 1 in the second language would be ideal.  Most important of all, encouraging animosity and resentment towards a language group sets up a major barrier to learning that language. It also encourages social strife between groups and a garrison mentality.

Preserving the language and culture of Quebec need not be achieved through fearful building of barriers to the rest of the world. Laws requiring that French be the language of work, that movies be released with Quebec French dubbing, that packaging be in french on products sold here, and a plethora of other laws enforcing the right of French people to live and work in French in Quebec were and are positive. These laws did not limit the freedoms of French people.

Machjo

Infosaturated wrote:

Machjo wrote:
Statistics prove you wrong. According to StatsCan 2006, the majority of French Canadians fail to learn their second language well, as is the case with English Canadians learning French.

You are echoing the information I presented. The current school system in Quebec is failing everyone, French and English. A 50% rate of failure to graduate from high school has very serious ramifications for the future. English Quebeckers are achieving French/English bilingual ability at higher rates than the French but it remains true that many English students take half their courses in French and yet still do not feel comfortable speaking French when they leave school. This is not because French is overwhelmingly difficult to learn.

I think it's time to look at the facts. In the publication 'Interkompreniĝi, sed kiel?' by Elizabeta Vilisics-Formaggio, published in 1993 (ISBN 83-85033-07-3), the author, commenting on the results of a survey of high school students spread out through a number of EU countries (translation mine), in reference to the goals they intend to achieve via their second language:

[quote?] Do the participants feel linguistically ready to achieve the desired goals?

31% of them answered positively. The most certain were Germans: more than half of them agreed. 3% of the participants were uncertain. 66% declared that their language knowledge does not suffice to satisfy interlinguistic communication. The most significant of these groups were Hungarians and Italians. 81% ad 79% of them respectively were unsatisfied with their communicative abilities.

In a book published by Ulrich Matthias in 2003, we read:

Quote:
 In 2001 a German teacher named Michael Scherm estimated that only 5 -7% of Germans can express themselves well in English. Similar research in 1989 came up with much the same result. A survey by an advertising agency which invited Europeans to translate sound recordings of three English phrases into their native languages concluded that "the truly correct understanding of English [in Western Europe] fell well below our most pessimistic expectations" being limited to about 6% of the population.

And going back to Formaggio in an teachers' guide she published in 1995, we read (translation mine, but underlines for emphasis hers):

Quote:
A few years ago, I took part in an international teachers' group that studied the abilities and opinions of students with regards to language learning. We collected the responses of 2276 youths between the ages of 15 and 19, Italians, Catalans, Germans and Ukrainians. At the time of the study, all had studied one foreign national language for an average of 5.5 years. 58% learnt a second  or even third foreign language too in accordance with the programme requirements of their respective schools. About half of the respondents took elective language courses too. The majority of these learners had already had a chance to speak with a foreigner. Their experience in these cases was unsatisfactory: 1346 youths out of 1980 declared themselves unsatisfied owing to difficult communication. Rating their language abilities, they considered themselves ill-prepared to deal with themes any more complex than idle chit chat and to establish friendships with those their own age, even though most of them desired this.

I'd recently received an invitation to a professional convention of language teachers (Teaching & Learning, Torino), in which was pointed out, among other things, that notable progress in the teaching of foreign languages with regards to teaching methods and tools available in the free market, but that "the results achieved in the schools is often disillusioning and discouraging for the teachers themselves".

I've cited only two facts, but the problem is widely acknowledged in every country. We cannot explain this away to laziness on the part of pupils or in competence on the part of the teachers. I believe that the chief reason for this failure is rooted in the object of study itself: languages are difficult. To achieve a satisfactory level, we would need to invest a great deal of time. About 2000 hours of study, says Claude Piron. Cato Lomb asserts that in the high school years, we would need to devote a minimum of 6-8 lessons a week plus at least 4 additional hours of practice per language. Knowing the competence of Piron and Lomb, highly qualified interpreters and translators, authors of many works on the subject of interlinguistic communication, I do not doubt their opinions.

I'm certainly open to your sources for the claim that languages are easy. Please, take your time, because you'll need it. And all the best of luck in your quest.

Machjo

Infosaturated wrote:

 

Machjo wrote:
You can't judge social issues based on what you alone can achieve. You must judge it based on what is within the reach of the general population. English is not an easy language to learn, and so to expect all Quebecers to learn it could only marginalize those who fail to learn it. 

Not everyone can learn math either but we don't avoid teaching math because not everyone will get it.  The elite of Quebec almost all master English to some degree, usually to a high level. I don't think they are smarter than the lower and middle class French people.

 

There's a big difference between maths and languages. Even a knowledge of basic maths alone can prove useful independently of higher level maths, not to mention that the time needed to invest in it needn't be so excessive. With language, it's a whole different story. As the studies quoted above show, a basic knowledge of a second language will generally prove unsatisfactory for most, with only a high level of language allowing for it to be of real use beyond idle chit chat, not to mention the considerable investment of time required to achieve even the most basic level of fluency in the language. Add to that that whereas a child can put his mathematical knowledge to use almost immediately when counting money at the candy shop, or when measuring wood to build a tree house, second language knowledge is not necessarily so easily applicable in a local community. Maths are fully integrated in local community life, such as when buying candy at the shop. A foreign language is by definition foreign to the local community, and thus not applicable in daily life outside the classroom. You really are comparing apples and oranges here.

Infosaturated

Machjo wrote:
I'm certainly open to your sources for the claim that languages are easy. Please, take your time, because you'll need it. And all the best of luck in your quest.

I never claimed that languages are easy.  I said that the elite of Quebec manage to master both languages and I don't think they are any smarter than the rest of us.  I said that exposing infants to language sounds dramatically increases their ability to master the language even if they don't actually start learning it until later in life.  I said that it is contrary to what we know about language learning to legally prevent a second language from being taught until after 3rd grade because the later a child starts the more difficult it is for them to learn it.  We would be better off teaching it from preschool to grade 1 and stopping than teaching it from grade 2 to grade 6.

The best doorway to language learning is the use of intrinsic motivation including exposing children to one another's languages through play and alternately through culture. Teaching French to English children through teaching subjects such as math and history in French has proven far less successful than people thought it would because it still doesn't achieve intrinsic communicative factors. Exposing them to the same TV programs their peers are watching with comprehension supports would be more effective especially if they were able to interact with French native speakers at the same time.

toddsschneider

"Young minds soak up intensive English"


http://tinyurl.com/yfnqje2

... Quebec's Education Department estimates about 10 per cent of elementary students at French-language schools in Quebec take part in an intensive English program every year ...

Most students have incredible confidence in their knowledge when they finish English intensive programs, said Joanna White, an associate professor at Concordia University's TESL (teaching English as a second language) Centre. "They're ready to go with more challenging things like reading almost age-appropriate novels, watching television, using the computer and so on." ...

The majority of Lafleur's students go on to enriched English courses in high school. When former students come back to see her, they say " 'Wow, we're lucky to have had this' because they see the difference," Lafleur said. They tell Lafleur they understand everything in English but their peers don't ...

 

Machjo

Infosaturated wrote:

Machjo wrote:
... Since neither English nor French are particularly easy to learn, therefore it woudl make sense to choose one or the other to serve as the common language. In Quebec, a logical enough solution to to adopt French for the purpose.

I agree. I am in favor of the language laws in Quebec requiring the use of French as the working language in businesses and in protecting the primacy of the French language on signs etc. I don't think there should be an English school board. It is not at all necessary to have the goal of perfect fluency in both French and English. But, most people of average intelligence are perfectly capable of achieving basic functionality in a second language.

Sure. As I'd mentioned above, if you can give them a good 2000 hours of instruction, you;re right. And where will we get the money, let alone the qualified teachers, for that enterprise nationwide? Are we to lead the world in this and show them how much we can outspend the rest of the world to reach national bilingual success where all other countries have failed? Can you point to any national model that has worked?

Quote:
I think there should be one school system and that it should be primarily French. I have studied educational pyschology and second language teaching. There are key points at which infants and young children must be introduced to the sounds of foreign languages even if they don't actually learn the language at that time.  Infants learn to distinguish sounds in the first six months of life.  It is not impossible to learn as an older child, or as an adult, but it is far far more difficult.  Sound recognition as well as pronunciation correlates to mother tongue because our ears are trained to hear the sounds of that particular language, and our mouths learn to formulate those sounds. Children who learn two languages from birth generally master both with ease.

Clearly you skipped a few chapters. Here is a quote from Penny Ur from page 286 of 'A Course in Language Teaching: Practice and Theory' (Cambridge University Press, ISBN 7-5600-2050):

Quote:
Many conventional assumptions about differences between children and adults in language learning may turn out, when subjected to careful examination or research to be not quite so obvious or inevitably true as they seem...

Owing to the length of the quotes I'll just summarize some of them here in my own words. First off, she refers to research that debunks the myth that on an hour for hour basis, younger children learn a second language faster than older children and adults do. In fact, some evidence shows the opposite to be true. She likewise debunks the myth that there a second language must be taught early in some critical period, again debunked.  There appears not to be any critical period. This likely comes from research showing that younger children can learn pronunciation faster than older children and adults. Remember though that pronunciation is but one extremely limited facet of second language learning, and one that can be easily overcome by a clear explanation of how to produce the sound. These are just some of the myths she sets out to debunk in her book.

Then going back to Formaggio again, in her book refered to above published in 1995 (again, translation mine):

Quote:
If we can't gain time horizontally, then let's try vertically: instead of more lessons in high school, let's start teaching foreign languages earlier, in elementary school! This solution has been chosen in many countries already.

At first sight, this solution appears really good, as children do learn to speak various languages with amazing ease. We find the best examples in immigrant families.: while the parents long, or even forever, remain incompetent in the new language, the children often assimilate it just by imitating local playmates. Another example is the children of an inter-ethnic couple. It often occurs that they can speak in either language while the parents themselves remain incapable of communicating in each other's languages without regular errors. So it is true that the younger one learns a second language, the more easily he'll reach the necessary competence in its practical use.

But not always!

The theory works only if the child is immersed in the concerned language environment or if they live with someone who uses the second language with them regularly.

Classroom conditions are a whole other thing. (One school year for our pupils for 3 hours of second-language learning each week is equal to 8-10 days for a child exposed to the language for 10 to 12 hours each day!). During the limited time available, the teacher must recreate a natural learning environment for a whole group of kids. Too big a task! The results are generally very modest: a few memorized chants and rhymes, a few social conversational formula, and a few expressions relating to a few topics. An obvious advantage is that they have the chance to learn foreign pronunciations quickly owing to their imitative abilities (an advantage only if the teacher's pronunciation is perfect).

Younger children receiving foreign language instruction do possess knowledge that other children their age who have not studied the language don't. But, since this instruction has strict limits, children who do learn the same language at a later age can achieve the same results in a shorter time. The differences that may appear significant at first, are quickly narrowed, and sometimes even eliminated.

Considering that I have found many books on the subject that have debunked the myth you are now defending, I must conclude that you have not read many books on the subject.

Quote:
Another important concept is motivation. People learn speech in order to communicate something they want to communicate and that motivation is intrinsic not extrinsic. That is, teaching math in French isn't as effective as showing a movie popular with a particular age group. Teaching a five year old to say "want to play ball?" is far more effective than teaching a five year old to say 1 plus 1 is 2. Nevertheless, teaching a five year old to say "want to play ball?" is still useless if that child doesn't know someone English with whom they want to play ball. There is no communicative purpose under those conditions.

As you ought to be aware, motivation is an important part of any teacher training course, and has been for many years. So when do you expect the statistics to improve? I'm sure you're aware of the adage that to repeat the same act hoping to get a different result is sheer lunacy.

Quote:
Recently a 3 year pilot project of selected students (50/50 French/English) experimented with alternating French and English instruction for half the year each of the three years. It was very successful.

Now this is something that makes me livid with Canadian linguistic research. We conduct the research under perfect conditions and then wonder why it doesn't transfer to the mainstream. Your example of the 50/50 above is among these lunacies. Of what practical use is this research, paid for with our tax dollars, to an average linguistically homogeneous school as is the case in the vast majority of local communities across Canada? So are we to pay the plane ticket tor relocate entire populations to replicate these results in schools across the country? We find the same with Canadian research in bilingual schools. Sure the rate of success is absolutely astounding, but let's not forget the money put into hiring fluently bilingual teachers for every subject. Good luck achieving that nationwide. Foreign schools that have adopted this Canadian model should tell us something. I remember a Cameroonian professor telling me how this Canadian bilingual model was replicated with amazing success in a few elite private schools in the country. I'd found the same in China with one teacher raving about how all the children in the elite private school she was teaching at were all coming out fluent in English and Chinese thanks to the fully bilingual staff that the school could afford.

It's no surprise that countries concerned about universal as opposed to elite bilingualism don't give this Canadian research so much as a first glance. It might be fine for private elite schools with the funds to replicate these research conditions, but such research is useless if applied in mainstream schools with access to the funding a typical public school has access to. From that standpoint, we really ought to be looking at the European research that is conducted in average schools, intended to find solutions that are applicable across the board and not under ideal conditions.

Quote:
Setting up the ideal circumstances for second language learning is impossible but it is not impossible to get closer. The practice of preventing the teaching of English prior to 3rd grade is the worst possible policy.  Doing preschool and kindergarden or even grade 1 in the second language would be ideal.  Most important of all, encouraging animosity and resentment towards a language group sets up a major barrier to learning that language. It also encourages social strife between groups and a garrison mentality.

While I agree with your last sentence, again, how is it that you have studied pedagogy and yet have not ever encountered rebuttal to these myths. There are reasons why public schools make these decisions, which are a combination of economic, linguistic, and other factors. Second-language education policy ought to be based on hard research based on typical real life circumstances and not educational mythology. What worries me more than an average citizen being unaware of these facts is that supposedly trained teachers are buying into these myths themselves.

Machjo

Infosaturated wrote:

Machjo wrote:
I'm certainly open to your sources for the claim that languages are easy. Please, take your time, because you'll need it. And all the best of luck in your quest.

I never claimed that languages are easy.  I said that the elite of Quebec manage to master both languages and I don't think they are any smarter than the rest of us.  I said that exposing infants to language sounds dramatically increases their ability to master the language even if they don't actually start learning it until later in life.  I said that it is contrary to what we know about language learning to legally prevent a second language from being taught until after 3rd grade because the later a child starts the more difficult it is for them to learn it.  We would be better off teaching it from preschool to grade 1 and stopping than teaching it from grade 2 to grade 6.

The best doorway to language learning is the use of intrinsic motivation including exposing children to one another's languages through play and alternately through culture. Teaching French to English children through teaching subjects such as math and history in French has proven far less successful than people thought it would because it still doesn't achieve intrinsic communicative factors. Exposing them to the same TV programs their peers are watching with comprehension supports would be more effective especially if they were able to interact with French native speakers at the same time.

 

 

My apologies if I may have misunderstood your claims about second languages being easy to learn. However, to compare an average public school limited in its funding to what the state can afford, to an elite private school with access to considerably more funding, is like comparing apples to oranges. In addition to this, you continue to promote myths about children learning second languages more quickly than adults even though they've been debunked in I've lost count how many textbooks.

And again, you continue basing your theories on idealistic hypotheses. How likely is it for an average French-speaking kid in Roberval to be able to just go out and play with the local English speakers?And how do you propose the government force parents to impose English-language television in the home. They have access to that already and aren't tuning in. So do we legislate so many hours of English TV per day? And for all these supports you talk abut, seeing we're already short of qualified teachers, where do you propose we find more teachers for this? Sure we can train more, but isn't there a more efficient solution? Could we not learn from the direction the Europeans have been moving in the last decade or so, whereby we apply the latest research in the classroom rather than just flattering our egos with these ideal-conditioned experiments in Canada's bilingual schools?

Machjo

Infosaturated wrote:

Machjo wrote:
I'm certainly open to your sources for the claim that languages are easy. Please, take your time, because you'll need it. And all the best of luck in your quest.

I never claimed that languages are easy.  I said that the elite of Quebec manage to master both languages and I don't think they are any smarter than the rest of us.  I said that exposing infants to language sounds dramatically increases their ability to master the language even if they don't actually start learning it until later in life.  I said that it is contrary to what we know about language learning to legally prevent a second language from being taught until after 3rd grade because the later a child starts the more difficult it is for them to learn it.  We would be better off teaching it from preschool to grade 1 and stopping than teaching it from grade 2 to grade 6.

The best doorway to language learning is the use of intrinsic motivation including exposing children to one another's languages through play and alternately through culture. Teaching French to English children through teaching subjects such as math and history in French has proven far less successful than people thought it would because it still doesn't achieve intrinsic communicative factors. Exposing them to the same TV programs their peers are watching with comprehension supports would be more effective especially if they were able to interact with French native speakers at the same time.

 

 

My apologies if I may have misunderstood your claims about second languages being easy to learn. However, to compare an average public school limited in its funding to what the state can afford, to an elite private school with access to considerably more funding, is like comparing apples to oranges. In addition to this, you continue to promote myths about children learning second languages more quickly than adults even though they've been debunked in I've lost count how many textbooks.

And again, you continue basing your theories on idealistic hypotheses. How likely is it for an average French-speaking kid in Roberval to be able to just go out and play with the local English speakers?And how do you propose the government force parents to impose English-language television in the home. They have access to that already and aren't tuning in. So do we legislate so many hours of English TV per day? And for all these supports you talk abut, seeing we're already short of qualified teachers, where do you propose we find more teachers for this? Sure we can train more, but isn't there a more efficient solution? Could we not learn from the direction the Europeans have been moving in the last decade or so, whereby we apply the latest research in the classroom rather than just flattering our egos with these ideal-conditioned experiments in Canada's bilingual schools?

Machjo

toddsschneider wrote:

"Young minds soak up intensive English"


http://tinyurl.com/yfnqje2

... Quebec's Education Department estimates about 10 per cent of elementary students at French-language schools in Quebec take part in an intensive English program every year ...

Most students have incredible confidence in their knowledge when they finish English intensive programs, said Joanna White, an associate professor at Concordia University's TESL (teaching English as a second language) Centre. "They're ready to go with more challenging things like reading almost age-appropriate novels, watching television, using the computer and so on." ...

The majority of Lafleur's students go on to enriched English courses in high school. When former students come back to see her, they say " 'Wow, we're lucky to have had this' because they see the difference," Lafleur said. They tell Lafleur they understand everything in English but their peers don't ...

 

 

Notice my emphasis added to your above post. In other words, it's probably either something akin to French immersion in Ontario, or a school in an overwhelmingly bilingual part of Montreal. Notice the university, Concordia, located in downtown Montreal, among Canada's most bilingual cities. Now try to replicate this experiment in an average school in central Quebec on a typical school budget. You'll notice the English name of the researcher too. Montreal is a truly cosmopolitan city where access to fluent English-speaking teachers is abundant, unlike in Roberval, not to mention exposure to English even in the streets of Montreal on occasion, and often parents who likely know some English too. That research is all about boosting egos, not what will apply to reality.

That's what I mean when I say that while European research is focussed more on the realities of typical classrooms, Canadian universities feed their egos with these ideal conditions in bilingual schools, intensive programmes, or alternatively bilingual cities.

We need to learn from our European counterparts if we want to produce research that can be applied not to some elite private school in some cosmopolitan city with an abundance of fluently bilingal teachers and even kitchen staff, but to an average public school in a typical small town. The research must conform to reality and not the other way around.

Machjo

Anyway, I think the evidence above shows conclusively that establishing universal bilingualism in English and French is beyond the pale of practical reality. This will forever be limited to those who have either the aptitude or the resources to learn them both. As for the rest of the population, expecting them to get much out of their English and French as a second language courses is sheer folly. Stats Can 2006 proves that.

Machjo

And this is why I agree with the NDP at least in part in establishing French as the common language across Quebec, recognizing that few will learn it well if it's taught just as some second language in the classroom.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Quote:
I agree with this move since it will help promote a more culturally unified Quebec; though I'd like to see an exception made for local indigenous languages.

I don't understand how you see indigenous languages being affected, Machjo.

Machjo

Actually, this give me an idea. If we're serious about research in second languages, the government should stop funding such research in cities like Montreal or in schools with half native English-speaking children and half French-speaking children, or well-funded bilingual schools, and instead establish a research department somewhere in central Quebec and perhaps another in Western Canada, where the conditions are more reflective of the reality in most of the country rather than under ideal conditions. Then our researchers are likely to come p with studies more in line with what our European counterparts are coming up with. Sure many elite schools around the world will be disappointed, as the research being produced now is highly beneficial to them. But then again, shouldn't they be paying for their own research? Publicly funded research ought to be looking at how to benefit typical schools, not the elites, and I think redirecting research funds this way would be a big step forward.

Sure, this might make the research more difficult since suddenly researchers would have to deal with the reality of homogeneous classrooms, parents who can't speak a second language, minimal exposure outside the classroom, teachers who may not have much of a chance to use the language outside the classroom themselves, children who don't understand the use of a second language when everyone they know speaks their language just fine, and typical school budgets. But at least the findings, however less impressive they may be compared to what we're producing now, would at least be more realistic and applicable to reality and so useful research as opposed to just ego flattery for some researcher.

Machjo

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

Quote:
I agree with this move since it will help promote a more culturally unified Quebec; though I'd like to see an exception made for local indigenous languages.

I don't understand how you see indigenous languages being affected, Machjo.

Even without special protection for indigenous communities, this would still benefit the indigenous population too. After all, right now let's say an Innu from central Quebec would need to learn Innu to preserve his culture, French to communicate with most Quebecers, and English to communicate wither other Quebecers and the rest of Canada, and possibly a fourth language to communicate with other peoples.

Under the NDP's proposal, more Quebecers would know French, thus ensuring that that same Innu person, should he fail to learn any language other than Innu and French, would have access to a larger population for friendship, trade, accessing economic resources, etc. than he does now with the same two languages.

For symbolic reasons though, I would like to see FN languages beput on an equal footing with French and English. I realise this owuld be politicaly difficult and so was really just mentioning it as a desire. But like I said, even without this special right, it could still benefit the Innu none-the-less by allowing them to communicate with more people across Quebec without having to know English.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Quote:
 If we're serious about research in second languages, the government should stop funding such research in cities like Montreal or in schools with half native English-speaking children and half French-speaking children, or well-funded bilingual schools, and instead establish a research department somewhere in central Quebec and perhaps another in Western Canada, where the conditions are more reflective of the reality in most of the country rather than under ideal conditions.

Your focus make no sense. Isolated rural populations do not represent the majority, and are dwindling in numbers. Multilingual, multicultural urban centres hold the majority of our population, and are growing.

Machjo

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

Quote:
 If we're serious about research in second languages, the government should stop funding such research in cities like Montreal or in schools with half native English-speaking children and half French-speaking children, or well-funded bilingual schools, and instead establish a research department somewhere in central Quebec and perhaps another in Western Canada, where the conditions are more reflective of the reality in most of the country rather than under ideal conditions.

Your focus make no sense. Isolated rural populations do not represent the majority, and are dwindling in numbers. Multilingual, multicultural urban centres hold the majority of our population, and are growing.

I've tried to speak French with random passers-by just out of curiosity in Orleans, one of Ottawa's most French-speaking communities, and was surprised to find many couldn't understand me, politely telling me that they don't speak French.

I'd also tried similar in Quebec city once out of curiosity with English, and found similar. So if many in Ottawa cannot speak French, and many in Quebec city cannot speak English, and both of these are capital cities, and even StatsCan 2006 agrees with my assessment, then what gives you the idea that the majority of Canadians are bilinguallly French and English?

Machjo

I can add that bilingual schools and even French immersion schools make up a small percentage of most schools in Canada.

 

You might also want to skim through Graham Fraser's 'I don't speak French', available at least at the Ottawa Public Library. He likewise acknowledges how many students, even if they do become bilingual, soon forget their second language after graduation. he also points out that even at Canada's bilingual university (Ottawa U), many don't know French. I think it's fair to say that French speakers who don't know English and English speakers who don't know French form a vast majority of the Canadian population. Like I said, even StatsCan bears this out well beyond any room for doubt.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Machjo wrote:

I've tried to speak French with random passers-by just out of curiosity in Orleans, one of Ottawa's most French-speaking communities, and was surprised to find many couldn't understand me, politely telling me that they don't speak French.

I'd also tried similar in Quebec city once out of curiosity with English, and found similar.

For someone who claims to respect and understand science and statistics, I have to say your methodology is, to be kind, somewhat flaky.

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Machjo wrote:
You might also want to skim through Graham Fraser's 'I don't speak French', available at least at the Ottawa Public Library. 

I believe I recommended that book to you.

Quote:
He likewise acknowledges how many students, even if they do become bilingual, soon forget their second language after graduation.

How many are you claiming he 'acknowledges'? Rather few, in my recollection.

 

George Victor

LTJ:

"Your focus make no sense. Isolated rural populations do not represent the majority, and are dwindling in numbers. Multilingual, multicultural urban centres hold the majority of our population, and are growing."

 

And we must hope that they do not become cultural enclaves of extremist religioius or political opinion in a shrunken, increasingly poorer world.(Which is not to join in the defeatist message that our attempts to teach a second language within public school systems that are not properly funded are just going through some singular political game. My daughter - and now grandaughter - got lucky in their place of residence and had access to such a school. They must be hugely expanded in number.) 

Machjo

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

Machjo wrote:

I've tried to speak French with random passers-by just out of curiosity in Orleans, one of Ottawa's most French-speaking communities, and was surprised to find many couldn't understand me, politely telling me that they don't speak French.

I'd also tried similar in Quebec city once out of curiosity with English, and found similar.

For someone who claims to respect and understand science and statistics, I have to say your methodology is, to be kind, somewhat flaky.

 

 

So would you mind enlightening me on this? So if I understand you correctly, when StatsCan 2006 (http://www40.statcan.gc.ca/l01/cst01/demo16-eng.htm) shows that about 44% of residents of Ottawa-Gatineau are bilingual in French and English, that's a lie? Now that's a pretty impressive statistic. bear in mind though that we're talking about two provincial border towns straddling the linguistic divide with many federal jobs attracting bilinguals from across Canada to work there. So I'd say choosing Ottawa as an example is being very generous, and yet even in Ottawa we fail to reach the 50% threshold in spite of everyithing stacked in its favour. How much less for othercities across the country.

To take another example, according to this (http://www40.statcan.gc.ca/l01/cst01/demo15-eng.htm), an estimated 17% of Canadians are bilingual. This clearly shows that urban centres like Ottawa do not reflect the average for Canada.

Machjo

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

Machjo wrote:
You might also want to skim through Graham Fraser's 'I don't speak French', available at least at the Ottawa Public Library. 

I believe I recommended that book to you.

Though I don't remember, you might very well have. He is a strong supported of official bilingualism, but also acknowledges some of tis flaws. Though I did not agree with him on many points, I still learnt. I mainly agreed with him when presenting the problems, but tended to disagree with his proposed solutions, which seem for the most part to just poor more money into it.

 

Quote:
He likewise acknowledges how many students, even if they do become bilingual, soon forget their second language after graduation.

How many are you claiming he 'acknowledges'? Rather few, in my recollection.

It's in the library again, so I'd have to go back and check it out again when I have the chance. But my own observations (and I've lived all over Canada) would still suggest a poor rate of success. Try to function in French in Victoria. Good luck.

But getting back to the thread, I see it as a positive step in acknowledging that Quebec needs a common language and that expecting province-wide bilingualism is just not possible. You are certainly fre to disagree with the NDP on this all you want but on this point at least I see the NDP going in the right direction.