Quebec Teachers Want to Know Why English Is Popular

Canadian Press, January 13, 2011

A Quebec teachers’ union has commissioned a study to probe the question of why so many youngsters are attracted to English for their post-secondary studies.

It views the trend as worrisome.

Results of the study, commissioned by the Institute for Research on French in the Americas at the request of the union, were released Thursday.

Among the findings: the vast majority of students who attend English junior college, known in Quebec as CEGEP, intend to work in English or to pursue university studies in English.

“Despite linguistic legislation, which for 33 years has had the objective of making French the normal and daily language of all Quebecers, we must observe that English remains remarkably attractive today,” the study notes.

“This attraction is reflected in the continuing interest of many francophone and allophone students who opt for English college studies, often despite a primary and secondary education entirely in French.”

The provincial language law –also known as Bill 101–restricts access to English-language primary and secondary schools to the kids of parents who studied in English in Canada.

The study comes amid a debate in Quebec about whether to extend Quebec’s language laws to CEGEP–where Quebec students enrol in two- or three-year programs after high school.

An increasing number of Quebec students are apparently switching to English after high school, once they’re free to attend school in any language they want.

There are growing calls, including from the opposition Parti Quebecois, to extend the rules that force non-Anglos to attend French school and make them also apply in CEGEPs.

The study suggests students often have one motivation for opting for an English education: to become perfectly bilingual.

“In light of the results presented in this report, it appears clear that the linguistic impact of English CEGEPs is having negative repercussions on the objective of making French the common language in Quebec society,” the study concludes.

The CSQ union has 180,000 members–most of them in the education sector.

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