After the Quebec government announced it was cutting an intensive English-language program in French elementary schools, we asked readers living in the province what they thought of the move. Here are some of their responses:
I think the PQ is making a big mistake. There is nothing wrong with forcing English in French schools in Quebec, especially at the grade school level when learning a second language is easier. That is the standards my children have been subjected to in the Quebec English school system. Today, both my children are bilingual. They write, speak and read both official languages proficiently. What the Quebec government is failing to realize is that Bill 101 is actually helping Anglophones move ahead of Francophones in Quebec because the English school system is more demanding than the French school system.
Philippe Godin, Chambly
The PQ can only maintain its base by ensuring that there are sufficient unilingual francophones voting. Unfortunately there was never a serious thought by the Liberals to ensure financing for the program and in the outlying regions there will be a real difficulty getting sufficient qualified English teachers. At least for those parents that can see beyond the PQ rhetoric they can still push their schools to follow the program. We will see if this will move forward to some degree on a voluntary basis.
Bill Howe, Arundel
As an anglo-Québécois fluent in both of Canada's Official Languages (and in Spanish as well), the more languages in which an individual is fluent, the better for the individual and for society. I agree that the effectiveness of this hastily contrived, albeit well-intentioned program, be assessed in a transparent, rigorous and independent fashion, and that the decision about its future be based on evidence-informed recommendations rather than on politics.
James Chauvin, Gatineau
Mastering English will only benefit Quebec society as a whole. A population that has a full grasp of two of the world's major languages can only bode well for Quebec, and Canada, on the international stage. Imagine the business prospects alone.
Kris Lachance, Montreal
The European Union actively encourages second language learning in order to offer better job opportunities in an increasingly small world. This doesn't necessarily mean that European students must learn English (although it is the most valuable second language to be fluent in at the moment), but it does mean that the governments accept that proficiency in more than one language is desirable, even indispensable, if their future generations are going to find work and enjoy a higher quality of life. Why should it be any different in Quebec? Or throughout the rest of Canada for that matter?
Elysse Presant, Montreal
All I can say is the government would be really stunting the growth of these kids if they got rid of the program. Perhaps if the English language was not the international language of business and if Quebec was not surrounded by English speaking North America, elimination of the program would be alright.
Ayanda Dube, Montreal
A second language is not a threat to one's mother tongue when the latter is strong. I can only hope, although perhaps naively, that the PQ's decision to make the policy optional is based on purely operational grounds.
Caroline Lavoie, Montreal
As Canada is supposed to be a French/English country, I consider removing the English-language program a big mistake. However, I understand the position from the PQ to "protect" French language here in Quebec. In the last few years, Montreal's English people are more present and there's also a major lack of French language in the population. I consider the French language as important as English and that every province should have an intensive French/English-program.
Sébastien Simard, Quebec City
Hypocritical of the PQ when much of their leadership got ample schooling in English and/or their children did. This is going to keep francophones from advancing in the international community. Once again, the PQ works against the interests of Quebec and its population, especially the francophones.
Kalaam Azad, Montreal
Bilingualism is a huge skill to have in this day and age, but I think parents should be the ones who decide the need for an intensive English program. Intensive programs are helpful but not panacea either. Teenage immersions, personal interest and efforts through language learning and college interaction with English-speakers are also solutions.
Christian Martel, Brossard
Though the preservation of French is instrumental, doing so by devaluing English is ridiculous. Quebec industries must be able to function in English to blossom. I am French-Canadian and I am frustrated with the zero-sum approach of the PQ. Multilingualism is a beautiful asset, if Quebeckers were all at least bilingual, we would stand a better chance to develop a strong economy and a culture of tolerance.
Christine Martin, Beloeil
The vast majority of French speaking Quebeckers recognize the importance of learning the English language. Whether this is accomplished gradually starting from grade 1 or through an intensive program at grade 6 is immaterial. The fact is French-speaking teachers who would dispense these English classes are nowhere near being sufficiently fluent in English to begin with. French speaking Quebeckers must learn English on their own. It starts by being open to English literature, movies, television shows, etc. all of which are abundantly available across the province.
François Ferland, Montreal
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