I got a notice home from my younger daughter’s school asking me to indicate if I were in favour of continuing to offer French as a Second Language to students in grade four (her school is K-4). Ummm…what? I was under the impression French language instruction was mandatory beginning in grade four: French is, after all, one of Canada’s official languages, n’est-ce pas?
But seriously – here’s a direct quote from the CBC news story about the Calgary Board of Education’s decision:
Calgary’s public school board said on Tuesday that second language classes will no longer be mandatory for students in Grades 4 through 9, starting in the next school year.
I mean, seriously? They’re actually getting rid of second language classes for students in grades 4-9. My head is reeling. The board’s position is that they will continue to offer second language classes to students in grades 4 to 9, but which language it will be now becomes the choice of the child and parents. So this is how the reasoning goes: maybe some families would prefer their child have instruction in Spanish, Mandarin or Arabic (those are the three main languages that are bandied about in the media). To which I am in no way opposed. I myself studied German in my public high school, an experience which I greatly treasured. It led to me spending a summer in Germany and it’s a language that I can still speak to this day. So…yes. Choice in additional language instruction is a good thing.
But not making French the first choice? That is NOT a good thing.
Look.The simple fact is this: Canada is a bilingual country and our two official languages are English and French. So it behoves us all to teach our children at least the fundamentals in each other’s languages. Let me put it to you this way: how would Albertans feel if we heard a news story that Quebec’s largest school board was going to make instruction in English as a Second Language an aption and that children and their parents could choose instruction in Arabic or Mandarin to supplement their core French-language instruction instead of English.
Yeah. I thought so.