Quebec parents say raising bilingual children is a priority – Montreal
Quebec will begin public hearings this month on its Bill 101 reform bill. The objective of the reform is to protect and strengthen the French language, but many Quebec parents feel ignored in their quest to raise children. bilingual children.
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Andrew Holman is from the United States and speaks English at home. He is now a Canadian citizen, but his children are not eligible under Law 101 to attend an English school.
He is concerned about the quality of English teaching at his son’s French school, where a one-hour course is offered once every two weeks. The class is not up to the English level of Holman’s children.
“We learn stuff for babies,” said Aiden, seven of Holman.
“(They) learn the colors, learn the days of the week, that sort of thing, the vocabulary words that they already knew,” Holman said.
He wants his children to master both languages perfectly, but is worried about the level of their written English.
“I cannot rely on the public school system to ensure that my children are competent in a way that meets higher education standards,” he said.
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“Language learning is important for parents in Quebec…. Bilingualism is extremely important, ”said Andréanne Langevin, master’s student in education at McGill University.
She is researching language policy and parents’ views on Bill 101. Her thesis will be published shortly. Its findings show that Quebec parents – anglophones, francophones and allophones – want their children to be bilingual.
However, whether their children are successful or not is a question of privilege, she said.
“For parents who are not eligible, there is the option of sending their children to a private school, which will essentially go under the radar of Bill 101 if it is not subsidized,” she said. .
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She added that other parents will pay for tutors or extracurricular activities.
Ira Turculet, a mother from Pierrefonds, sent her children to a bilingual daycare and registered her daughters for guides.
“They have a good command of English because we went the extra mile,” she explained.
Immigrants from Moldova, which was part of the former Soviet Union, she said she and her husband specifically chose to move to Quebec to raise their families because they wanted their children “to be raised in a multicultural environment. and multilingual ”.
However, she said she was not happy with the 90 minutes of English instruction her children receive per week.
“I’m not sure that’s enough to be accepted into a university, especially now that they risk not being able to go to an English-speaking CEGEP,” she said, referring to Bill 96, the reform language proposed by the province.
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Premier François Legault recognizes the need to improve the quality of English language education.
“We have another challenge, which is to teach better English in primary and secondary schools,” he told a press conference on May 13 at the National Assembly.
However, this is not something his government addressed in Bill 96. Rather, it aims to restrict access to anglophone CEGEPs.
Legault said it’s important to protect the French language, although he said he understands why so many French-speaking students want to study in English.
“Some French people like to go to English colleges to have better English. Maybe I should have done it too, ”he said in May.
Langevin said that if students “want to improve their English, we can logically assume it is because they find it insufficient”.
She said the proposed reforms miss the big picture.
“Will we really have this conversation if quality English as a second language, English as a second language instruction was available and bilingualism was guaranteed?” ” she asked.
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A Francophone relative from Saint-Agapit, a rural community near Quebec City, expressed concern about the employment prospects of her children. She says that more and more companies based in Quebec have international clients who speak English.
“It could prevent them from pursuing certain career paths,” she said. “And right now, when they’re kids, it’s the best time to learn English. They’re like sponges.
For Holman, there is another worry that strikes more emotionally: that his children choose post-secondary schools – and careers – outside of the province.
“I’m afraid of losing my children,” he said.
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