Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Language Centrism in Quebec and Montreal

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I've been reading up on centrism, and in the course of my reading I came across an excellent article on instruction in a second language. Written by Charles Glenn, a Boston University academic with extensive experience in education, the essay's proposals espouse the ideas of the centre, or "radical middle" as he calls it.

What makes this article particularly interesting is it's relevancy to Quebec, and to a certain extent, Canada. Glenn discusses the education of immigrants, progressive vs conservative views, and the different standards to which they are held in the US.

Here in Quebec, though, the proportion of immigrants in our public schools is much greater (particularly here in more cosmopolitan, anglophone, Montreal) and so his proposals don't entirely work for our situation. For example, while he cites one-year intensive immersion programs similar to our "classes d'accueil," he suggests that students be integrated with regular classes after the year, and followed-up on by specialists. I know that at the school where my mother teaches, they can't afford to meet the demand for the social worker and the psychologist who come a couple of times a week, so hiring another specialist is out of the question. Even if it was possible, the only people to integrate them with are other people from classe d'accueil. Arabs, East Europeans, South-East Asians and West Indians make up much of our public school population, and they mostly come here speaking no French.

At any rate, it's an interesting article that has some good centrist propositions. Schools must be "accountable for results, not procedures," says Glenn. I couldn't agree more.

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