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Summary of the News Reports

Discuss about the Francophone Immigrants Face Greater Challenges.

Language politics have a great influence in the formation of provinces, and the shaping of political ideologies (Pal 1993). In today’s world, maintaining diplomatic relationships between other nations is very important as the world thrives of trade negotiations and mutual assistances. Canada and France, two nations which share a maritime border, maintain an great relationship. However, they have their share of sour moments over linguistic and sovereignty issues, focused on Quebec, Canada’s largest province (Mackey 2005).  Issues with providing the official language status to French in Quebec and English outside of it causes challenges to the state administrations, and to the future of the French outside of Quebec. In this article, three news articles reporting issues faced by Francophones in Canada shall be summarised, discussed, and analyzed.

Reports from three news articles which focused on the issues faced on the general perception of the language, disadvantages in education, and workplace challenges were chosen, and are summarised below.

  1. Valiante, Giuseppe. Controversy in Quebec as more French students choose English colleges.News Report, Montreal: The Canadian Press, 2017

In this report, the author speaks about the limitations that the francophone students of Quebec face while choosing a language of their choice. He says that as English courses in the public pre-university system CEGEP of Quebec not recognized by the law, those students have to avoid exposure, thus losing out on a lot of opportunities. Valiante also says that by this, the education of the students is affected, as many students choose not to enroll in French based courses, and this is an issue that must be addressed to as early as possible.

  1. Keung, Nicholas. Francophone immigrants face greater challenges outside Quebec.News Report, Toronto: Immigration, 2017

In this report, the author talks about the issues faced by French immigrants in Canada, especially out of Quebec. He says that even as French is one of the official language of Canada, its influence is limited only to Quebec, thus widely limiting job opportunities for francophones out of Quebec. He states that immigrants form a large part of Canada’s workforce, and language issues have a great impact on the jobs offered to them. Keung, in this report, interviews many affected francophones, as well as the government officials, and states that there is a lot to be achieved in order to set the issue in right balance.

  1. Butler, Don. Francophones see threat to future of French in Canada, survey finds.News Report, Ottawa: Ottawa Citizen, 2016.

In this news item, the author reports the fear of francophones, that the future of French language and administration is threatened. However, he says that upon research, only one-thirds of the English speaking people seem to agree with this issue or have a favorable opinion about the francophones. The anglophones and francophones are more or less on the same page on promoting bilingualism throughout Canada, that it would enhance bilateral ties, provide better opportunities, and improve prospects for the future. The author says that due to a widespread reach, English is the better preferred language of choice even for many French speakers; even as a few people have no interest towards a bilingual lifestyle.

Discussion

The first report (Valiante 2017) focuses on the issues faced by French speaking students within Quebec wanting to take up English based courses. It provides a firsthand interview of a few students and English language tutors, and notifies their opinion on the language issue of Quebec, and how it affects the education of the students there. The implementation of Bill 101 Language law of Quebec (Bourhis 2005) has made the learning of French compulsory, and that learning a pre-university course in English is not subject to the stat laws. This considerably brings down the registrations in Quebec’s CEGEP, thus driving many students to opt for English based courses (Lamarre 2012). The author says that even as students feel French need to be the state language, it should not come in the way of education, and they feel that their global outreach would be limited if they did not have a working knowledge of English. Valintane writes that the students might feel stuck in a particular stream of education without a rollback, if they felt they had made a wrong choice earlier, due to language issues.  However, due to political pressures, many English courses are not advertised and have limited intake, unlike francophone courses (Stevenson 1999). This report opens up a sensitive issue of education, which is indeed the need of the hour.

The second report (Keung 2017) focuses on the challenges faced by francophones in other parts of Canada with regard to job opportunities. This is a report based on first hands interviews of French immigrants to Canada; at a centre that assists francophone immigrants in Canada obtain jobs. The author states that the French speaking immigrants say that they have no advantage of knowing French in Canada, even though it is one of the official languages of Canada, and the prime official language of Quebec. They also feel that their achievements, skills and expertise are underplayed by Canadian recruiters, and are often seen as second-lass workers and are assigned low skilled jobs, and are passed over for anglophone candidates (Kramsch 1997). Upon noting down the statements given by various government officials, the author states that they say that it is practical to have proficiency in English, as it is the unofficial global communicator. Many agencies in Canada help francophones develop a basic working knowledge of English, in order to obtain a stable employment (Ulrich 2011). This article opens up an important issue of the influence of language in one’s future employment.

Analysis

The third report (Butler 2016) focuses on the allegation made by the francophones in Canada that the Language French, which is also the official language of Quebec, is under a potential threat. The author has taken into account the results of a survey, which was commissioned by the Department of Canadian Heritage, which focused on Anglo-French bilingualism – its advantage, opportunities, cultural identity, inter-personal relationships, and the threat to the bilingualism by English preference. The results of the survey stated that most francophones agreed on the facts that learning both French and English would facilitate a more desirable understanding between the people of Canada, would open new passages to Education and job opportunities, and would enrich the cultural spirit of Canada. They also agreed that the relationships between the people speaking the two languages have improved desirably over the last decade. However, a large percentage of Francophones concurred that the linguistic future of French in Canada was threatened, due to multiple factors. A majority of anglophones agreed over the need of bilingualism, but a vast majority disagreed on the threat to the French language (Heller 2003). This survey was conducted over a month, on nearly 1500 Canadians, and found that the response of francophones was better than that of anglophones, with respect to bilingualism. The report is left open ended by the author, who leaves a wide scope for discussion and analysis on this issue.

All the three reports discussed above focus on one major issue – the influence of a language (French) on the life of people speaking it within and outside of its province (Quebec). In order to understand this issue, a brief history of the linguistic issue must be understood. The issue of linguistic divide, alongside other issues became the prime cause for advocating a seperationist movement of Quebec from Canada. The political party fuelling the seperationist movement is largely backed by francophone conservatives of Quebec, who intend to demand a spate state for Quebec, and work towards ties between Canada and Quebec (Pal 1993). This has been the major cause for fuelling francophone and anglophone divide within Canada, especially Quebec.  

Politics aside, language is the prime mode of communication, and knowledge of the officially recognized lingua franca would benefit the person, as it would open the gates to opportunities worldwide. However, limiting the knowledge of the lingua franca, sue to political reasons, would definitely have a negative impact on the students, job seekers, who move out of the area as immigrants. This seems to be the agenda of one of the political parties, upon whose victory, the access to English language education would further be limited. This would cause a down spiral of many students opting for an English based education out of Quebec and those who remain in Quebec would be deprived of an English based education, thus severely limiting their career growth and opportunities. Even though many francophone students desire to learn English, they would choose to retain French, thereby encouraging bilingualism. The students see English as more than a language – for them it is the gateway to an open field full of varied opportunities, which is indeed true (Jiménez, García and Pearson 1996). Inability to be bilingual could cost a lot of pure francophones a lot of job opportunities. This was discussed in the report by Nicholas Keuing that focused on the issues faced by francophone immigrants while looking for a job out of Quebec.

Within Quebec, a working knowledge of French would be enough to obtain a job enough to feed a family. However, once one steps into a territory where the English language reigns supreme, a working knowledge of English is quintessential to obtain a good job.  Many francophones are not bilingual, thus facing a serious shortage of jobs out of Quebec.  An English speaking person with a fair knowledge of French is much preferred over a French speaking person with a little knowledge of English. With French, jobs could be searched for only in France and Quebec, while with English; opportunities could be sought after in all English speaking nations, thereby ensuring a better lifestyle (Jedwab 2003). This situation needs to be addressed at its root cause – the education system, where bilingualism must be made the norm.


The survey report made by the Department of Canadian Heritage revealed that an overwhelming majority of the francophone Canadians are in favour of bilingualism, stating that it would enable them live a better lifestyle by getting access to education, job opportunities, and enhancing cultural values. The French speakers felt that the government must invest more on cultural exchange programmes. Their opinions were widely favored by anglophones too. However, when many of the francophones felt that the language French would lose its status in the future as English would dominate, a majority of anglophones disagreed with their opinion. The francophone opinion that both English and French need to be learnt by Canadians was not widely popular with the anglophones, as they feel French might not be of use to them. The public opinion that the linguistic divide has considerably lessened over the past decade was reciprocally shared between the two linguistic groups. However, the political moves and agendas focusing on minority appeasement are not so favorable for the bridging between the two groups, thus putting majority of the francophones at a great disadvantage (Konings and Nyamnjoh 2000).

It is essential to learn the language, skill and expertise that is in sync with the world’s expectations, in order to survive in today’s world post globalization. Bilingualism and multilingualism puts one at a greater advantage to grab opportunities as they come by, helping one sustain in the fast moving economy. It is therefore essential for the francophones to embrace and adapt to English as the lingua franca, and explore the opportunities it provides, without losing ground of their mother tongue French.

Conclusion

The use and connectivity of a language tends to decide its status in the world. The Asian country India has 22 official languages, but its official languages of communication are English and Hindi, even though English was the impact of European colonization (Pandharipande 2002). English is known as the lingua franca because with the knowledge of English, many barriers would be broken, and many opportunities could be unveiled.  It therefore becomes quintessential for people of all linguistic backgrounds to have a working language of English, therefore enabling a wider global outreach and better prospects for the future.

Reference

Bourhis, Richard Y. Conflict and language planning in Quebec Volume 5. Multilingual Matters, 2005.

Butler, Don. Francophones see threat to future of French in Canada, survey finds. News Report, Ottawa: Ottawa Citizen, 2016.

Heller, Monica. "Globalization, the new economy, and the commodification of language and identity." Journal of sociolinguistics, 2003: 473-492.

Jedwab, Jack. It pays to be bilingual in Canada: Though not everywhere. Canada: Association for Canadian Studies, 2003.

Jiménez, Robert T, Georgia E García, and David P Pearson. "he reading strategies of bilingual Latina/o students who are successful English readers: Opportunities and obstacles." Reading Research Quarterly, 1996: 90-112.

Keung, Nicholas. Francophone immigrants face greater challenges outside Quebec. News Report, Toronto: Immigration reporter, 2017.

Konings, Piet, and Francis Nyamnjoh. "Construction and deconstruction: Anglophones or Francophones?" African Anthropologist, 2000: 5-32.

Kramsch, Claire. "Guest column: The privilege of the nonnative speaker." Publications of the Modern language Association of America (Publications of the Modern language Association of America), 1997: 359-369.

Lamarre, Patricia. "English Education in Quebec; Issues and Challenges." Ottawa: Canadian Heritage, 2012: 175-214.

Mackey, Eva. House of difference: Cultural politics and national identity in Canada. UK: Routledge, 2005.

Pal, Leslie A. Interests of state: The politics of language, multiculturalism, and feminism in Canada. Canada: McGill-Queen's Press-MQUP, 1993.

Pandharipande, Rajeshwari. "Minority matters: issues in minority languages in India." International Journal on Multicultural Societies, 2002: 213-234.

Stevenson, Garth. Community besieged: The Anglophone minority and the politics of Quebec. McGill-Queen's Press-MQUP, 1999.

Treleaven, Sarah. In Montreal, French Expats Find Language Doesn't Translate to Community. News Report, Montreal: Citylab, 2017.

Ulrich, A. he dominance of English as a language of science: Effects on other languages and language communities. Walter de Gruyter, 2011.

Valiante, Giuseppe. Controversy in Quebec as more French students choose English colleges. News Report, Montreal: The Canadian Press, 2017.

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