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"watering down" a language - Page 2

post #21 of 28
fun! A Canadian linguistic political thread on MDC!

I don't think that it is elitist to say that an anglophone child with anglophone parents should be in Immersion to learn French, rather than a francophone school. It is no more elitist than saying that the "mamas of colour" tribe is only for "mamas of colour", as an example. I think English is everywhere everywhere everywhere for francophone (and other linguistic groups) in Canada and that in order to pass on the francophone culture and language the best way to do this is through francophone schools that are populated exclusively by francophone kids. The exception to this in Manitoba (where I live) is the category of "ayant droit" or "birth right" - kids who are born to parents who were educated in a francophone school but for whom English is the first language. From what I've heard from friends teaching in francophone schools (there is a francophone school division in Manitoba) having 'ayant droit' students in the class does weaken the overal Frenchness of the class, because for the vast majority of Canadian francophones outside of Quebec, English is an additional language spoken fluently by school age. This is different than having, say, a francophone kid who also speaks Arabic in the class, because it's not like the other students are going to start speaking Arabic at recess to accomodate the other language speaker.

My parents were born in England and I was born in Winnipeg. My dad immigrated with his parents to Quebec when he was very young. He grew up speaking French and English. I went to French Immersion for kindergarten but didn't continue. I became fluent in French years later, after uni, through the federal government 6 week immersion program, and then the full and part time language monitor program working living and studying in Quebec. I love being bilingual, I've taught French Immersion, and I love the language debates. I haven't been in this discussion in years but it's fun to hear the different perspectives.

OP - I agree with your side of the argument with your dh
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by selkat View Post
I know I would have fits if our kiddos end up in a french public school and half their class only speaks english at home (a common situation in french primary schools in NB right now). Ah! Thoughts?
The reason that's so common in NB is that the French education system in NB was pretty much gutted.

My grandfather grew up speaking French, but married an American and my mother and her siblings were raised unilingual anglo. My mother studied French at university, and raised my brother and I bilingual. We attended garderie and French First Language (FFL) schools in Ontario for a bit, and then back to Immersion, and then even late immersion (immersion starting in Grade 7) and then back to FFL for high school, but I completed high school in English, then I went to uni in English and did my MA in English and now I'm doing my PhD in the US.

I say all this in the interests of full disclosure. I speak English, mostly, at home - I have a few Franco friends with whom I converse 90% in English.

I want to send my kid to French school. I wish the immersion system would disappear and schools were English or French, with support for ESL and FSL where needed.

My reason is this: the FFL system hired almost exclusively Francophone teachers and all "business" conversations happened in French. In the Immersion system, the teachers tended to have terrible anglo accents - they were anglos who spoke French to teach, but would have conversations between themselves in English.

Within a few months of switching from FFL to Immersion, my mother claims my French accent turned from a decent Franco-Ontarian accent to a terrible anglo-immersion accent. Kids take on the accent of their peers.

What if we integrated the FFL kids and the Immersion kids? What if we worked to bring the French and English speaking parents together?

My kids will be ayant droit, even though we will likely speak English at home (mostly) - but I am fluent in French, and I look forward to sending my kid(s) to French school, in Canada, either Immersion or FFL.

Ironic that we're having this conversation en anglais, eh?
post #23 of 28
I found this a very interesting read.

In my area (twin cities, mn) there are quite a few immersion schools. My understanding froma coworker whose daughter attends a Spanish one is that they are very strict about enforcing spanish only, 100% of the time, at school.

It seems to me like if the French schools implemented things better (ie, strictly enforcing the language) they might be fine with more English kids.

The other thing I thought of was that perhaps they should impose additional requirements on non-native French families. Like French lessons for parents, family french "camps" in the summer or on weekends, things like that. My spanish immersion friend is strongly encouraged to do these things with his daughter. They even go on family vacation to spanish speaking countries only, and they also have the option to host an exchange teacher for a semester, who speaks only spanish.

Editted to add- obviously not everyone can afford to vacation in a foreign country.
post #24 of 28
Fascinating discussion.

I studied Spanish from 7th grade through a minor in college, and then I moved to Texas. I've seen the same "switching languages" occur, with Spanish bilinguals switching to English if I was near. Even after I assured them it wasn't necessary. It does make it hard to become fluent in the language.

So I can see both the OP and her DH's perspectives. I know in the U.S. the culture is pretty monolingual English. As hard as I've worked to study other languages, I just can't seem to shake the English and get to immersion.
post #25 of 28
I'm just lurking.
We're a bilingual family, the kids are fluent in three languages (and knows a few more), so interesting discussion.
post #26 of 28
Thread Starter 
I'm so glad this discussion is stil ongoing. I have a terrible track record with threads - I usually kill them very effectively.

I don't think I feel bad about being against English speaking children from anglo homes attending French schools in any significant number. I also don't think that you can put the above mentioned anglo in the same group as, say, a new Canadian who has Arabic as his first language and wants to attend a French school. An earlier posted managed to put my elusive feeling into words - it's really unlikely that kids on the playground are going to switch to Arabic as the social language!

As for:
Quote:
Originally Posted by babymommy2 View Post
If the majority of the kids spoke fluent french and were native fench speakers, do you really think that a few english speakers in each class is going to switch the playground language to english?
I don't *think* this, I *know* this. And I went to a French school. Not an immersion school. We had rules against speaking English, and could even be given detention for doing so (after three warnings). I'm pretty sure suspension was also further down on the infraction list for such things. There simply weren't enough teachers/staff on a large campus with 2000+ students to police and enforce language rules. Anglophone kids became fluent in academic-related french, but social french lagged far behind. I don't know what the solution is, but whatever we're doing now isn't particularly effective!
Actually, I think we need more "cool" French media. Where's the Teen Vogue/Seventeen magazine in french? (I've seen such things in QC, but not elsewhere) Where are the good books? It's easy to find english bestsellers, but not so much the french. Translations are just not as good, really. Even the books we have for my dd aren't awesome. We have some classics, translated, and they're just a little "off". Things like calling water melon "pasteque", which is just not the term in Canada...

Anyway, I need to go finish an essay, but I am keen to keep reading people's thoughts.
post #27 of 28
Having worked in English Immersion schools in Argentina, where the majority of the students spoke spanish as their primary language at home, I can say that this is mostly an issue of how the school is run. If the school admin are very firm on the policies, and even monitor the use of the language on the playground, as one school I worked for did, those who come not knowing the target language sufficiently can and do pick it up very quickly. If they do not monitor it well, then the the target language becomes very difficult to acquire, especially for those who are not linguistically gifted or who do not learn languages well in an academic setting. Not only will students switch into the language of comfort for the less linguistically advanced student, but in an effort to help them they will translate for those students during classes. I have even seen teachers translating for their less advanced students to speed a class along, "help" a student understand, or just improve classroom management.

As a language acquisition teacher I find it really frustrating if the adminstration in an immersion school is not vigilant and supportive of all measures to keep the immersion process as pure as possible. I, for example, used to give my students demerits for speaking Spanish in my class and after 3 demerits they got a detention where they had to research the importance of Learning English, and write a letter of apology to their parents who were paying small fortunes to send them to a school where they could learn English. If they got 6 demerits they had to write an essay, and if they got 9 demerits they failed the term. My school was fully supportive of this, and as a result students who started the term at grade seven with little more than a fuctioning knowledge of the present simple (if you don't include things like third person singular -s at the end of a verb conjugation important) and virtually no understanding of modal verbs, were ready to start grade nine and begin an IGCSE course in English as a FIRST language and English Literature.

It is possible, but it does require a much more facist regime. Hallway monitors, playground monitors who listen for language other than the target language being spoken, firm consequences for sullying the language learning environment, and language support for those who need it.

I think everyone deserves access to bilingual schools, but if the training of the teachers and staff are not WAY beyond that of the teachers in the single language schools the purpose of the school will undoubtedly fail all but the most gifted of students. Learning in a language other than your mother tongue is a totally different challenge and should be treated as such. Teachers need constant training, and support, and if possible a decent resource library to help students at various levekls of linguistic ability. I think this is especially true in secondary school when teachers tend to be more specialized and are frequently not sure how to teach the language of their course, or correct grammar and spelling errors in written work.
post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by selkat View Post
I don't *think* this, I *know* this. And I went to a French school. Not an immersion school. We had rules against speaking English, and could even be given detention for doing so (after three warnings). I'm pretty sure suspension was also further down on the infraction list for such things. There simply weren't enough teachers/staff on a large campus with 2000+ students to police and enforce language rules. Anglophone kids became fluent in academic-related french, but social french lagged far behind. I don't know what the solution is, but whatever we're doing now isn't particularly effective!
Actually, I think we need more "cool" French media. Where's the Teen Vogue/Seventeen magazine in french? (I've seen such things in QC, but not elsewhere) Where are the good books? It's easy to find english bestsellers, but not so much the french. Translations are just not as good, really. Even the books we have for my dd aren't awesome. We have some classics, translated, and they're just a little "off". Things like calling water melon "pasteque", which is just not the term in Canada...

Anyway, I need to go finish an essay, but I am keen to keep reading people's thoughts.
First of all, smaller schools! I say this all the time, the larger the school the more over worked the teachers feel and the less likely they are do the extra stuff like monitor target language use on the playground. And one teacher cannot monitor the language usage of more then 50 kids at a go...not possible, and teacher need breaks between classes too...usually to prep for the next class, but still!

And YES, you definitely need a budget for popular media in the target language! The most successful bilingual schools I have worked in have had books and magazines and movies and comic books and EVERYTHING in BOTH languages! Especially music! So many kids learn linguistic patterns subconciosuly through music, and how can you have a fluent discussion in the target language if you don't know who or what everyone is talking about?!
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