Option Nation

The week before the May 2 federal election. Announcement from Calgary: dropping mandatory second language courses from grades 4 to 9. The second language could be, but need not be, French. After Grade 9, all second language courses are optional. Means that nowhere in the system is one complelled to at least try to learn French.

Newspaper headline misleading: “French classes no longer mandatory in Calgary public schools”. Looks to me that French language classes were never mandatory. Catholic system will continue to have mandatory second language classes in grades 4 to 7, with the option to continue in later grades.

One sentence tilts things for me:

…the decision does not affect (the Calgary Board of Education’s) many French immersion and bilingual programs currently offered. Public schools offer bilingual programs in Mandarin, Spanish and German.

Canada is a country with two Official Languages, not ten, or twenty. In times of fiscal constraint, there are certain language programs that should be cut first, assuming that they should have ever been funded publicly in the first place…though I always seem to be missing something, somewhere…
Postscript, May 11, 2011: Reading a news release that the Calgary Board wants to now guage public interest in establishing a publicly-funded Arabic bilingual alternative program, commencing in Kindergarten and Grade 1, as of next year.

About brucelarochelle

This entry was posted in Canadian Identity, Official Languages of Canada. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Option Nation

  1. Neil Abramson says:

    I guess that after living in BC the last 19 years I have developed a more Western Canadian view about the two official languages. It seems to me that we have two official languages in Anglo and Allophone Canada but only one official language for Francophones (and anyone else) in Quebec. The two language policy hurts the advancement of non French speakers outside Quebec, but somehow we tolerate a completely different standard in Quebec.

    Personally, I have come to believe we should have the same language standards in the rest of Canada as Quebec. If Quebec can force French as the language requirement within its borders, then English should be the sole requirement in English Canada. The current situation is pandering to Quebec.

    Here in the West the irony is that there really aren’t that many French speakers. Here in Vancouver, the two dominant languages are English and either Cantonese or Mandarin. Its kind of silly to maintain an expensive bilingual English/French infrastructure here, and absurd to expect Anglos to learn French when Quebec Francophones do not have the same expectation. If French is to be protected here, then English should be equally protected in Quebec.

    In any event, I agree with you that the public should not fund special schools devoted to language, or religion (Catholic schools), or race (black schools in Toronto),

    All the best

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