Forcing French Down Our Throats

Jean-Francois_Lisee_2013(2)

Solution: Have Anglophones Attend French Colleges for a Semester

Marc-André Lavigne
Opinions Editor

Jean-François Lisée, the leader of the PQ, wants more francophones in the province. His solution to spread French would be to force anglophone students to attend a francophone CEGEP for a semester. Non mais on a perdu la tête!? He claims that this is all to ensure every member of our society can function and work in French. He has a number of ideas that I honestly do not believe will help solve what he perceives as a problem. This past weekend, he visited the “Comité national des jeunes du Parti Quebecois” and boasted that the PQ was the political party that is the most connected to youth. If that is so, he is not connected with anglophone students and does not really understand the reasons why francophone students are going to English CEGEPs.

One of his worries is francophone students choosing to attend anglophone colleges, and his incentive would be to offer enriched English courses in francophone CEGEPs. Now, let’s be honest here, there are three main reasons why a francophone wants to attend an English CEGEP: the college is close to their home, it has the program that they want to go in, or they want to avoid having four classes of French. If some students apply to anglophone colleges for that third reason, the solution to the decision made by college students must be addressed earlier in elementary and high schools. Of these reasons I will be focusing on the last for the purpose of this critique. If a student chooses an anglophone over a francophone CEGEP it may be because they do not want to take any French courses or just wish to finish them as fast as possible. Maybe it is because the whole teaching method is a bit repetitive throughout the years. If this is correct it is exponentially more appropriate to make changes to elementary and high school curriculums rather than at the CEGEP level.

But let me ask you this: Is there a Canadian history course at JAC? I can tell you there is no true Canadian history course it is rather lightly mixed into other course topics. Throughout elementary and high school, students have to take classes about Canadian history. Year after year students must endure tediously similar Canadian history curriculum, but get a different teacher and a different book. Would any student subjected to the same course over and over again want to attend the same course in college? No.

The same applies to French courses. The aforementioned history courses are the same stories over and over with more complex details every year. Similarly French courses are the same grammar lessons with more sophistication each level. Teaching methods also leave something to be desired, “les dictées” are dreaded by a vast majority of students. When I hear someone tell me or someone else about their French course and I hear the word “dictée” I can feel their dismay. The processes of having to listen to your teacher recite certain texts or passages of a book, and writing every word of it on a blank loose-leaf sheet is something that many despise. It really isn’t hard, but because students have been doing this since 2nd grade it becomes beyond tedious. Courses that vary in terms of teaching methods and content will attract more students.

Now, if we are trying to see where the problem is when it comes to giving people the incentive and motivation to learn French, we should definitely look at education in elementary and high-schools. If students coming out of both francophone and anglophone high-schools do not seem to be interested in doing their studies in French, the problem is not to be rectified at the college or university level. The problem should be solved at its root and the PQ should not blame or target the anglophone community for all the political parties’ failings.

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