No, French is not spoken in English-speaking CEGEPs

Anglophones are considering founding a new political party to rally Anglophone voters opposed to the reform of Bill 96 on the French language at the postsecondary level, we learned last week.

This bill was recently amended by the Liberal Party of Quebec, in order to force English-speaking students in the college network to take at least three of their courses in French, before obtaining their diploma.

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During the detailed study of Bill 96, the Liberal MP for D’Arcy-McGee, David Birnbaum, nevertheless maintained that the English school boards go “beyond the requirements of the […] in everything related to French as a second language.

If that is really his conviction, I invite him to quickly visit the neighboring English-speaking CEGEP in his riding and try to hold a conversation in French with the students who attend it. His surprise will probably be immense when he finds that most cannot.

We have witnessed it

I myself went to college in an English-speaking establishment and I saw on a daily basis the flagrant inability of many of my peers, as well as my professors, to express themselves in French.

Without trying to blame the actors of the network, it is clear that very few efforts are made to encourage and promote the learning of French within the English school community.

However, what was my surprise to hear the concerns of the president of the Fédération des cégeps, Bernard Tremblay, following this potential obligation to take three courses in French for students of English-speaking colleges.

In all seriousness, he asserts that “this amendment has a catastrophic effect and, obviously, a discriminatory effect”.

“There are thousands of students who will be unable to graduate,” he adds.

Mr. Tremblay pleads that more than 35% of the approximately 29,000 students enrolled in English-speaking CEGEPs have too little knowledge of French to take these courses.

A minimal requirement.

Dominique Anglade then seems to share his point of view and announced last Tuesday that he wanted to back down from the amendment that his own party had adopted. It would seem that an internal pressure made him renounce his nationalist values.

However, the requirements imposed with this amendment are not very high.

Isn’t the fact that one-third of college students are unable to take these courses clear proof that it is urgent to impose measures to correct the situation? I invite Mr. Tremblay and Anglade to wonder how it is possible, in 2022, in Quebec, to obtain a college diploma without having minimum skills in French.

Without this initiative, the careers of these future unilingual Anglophone graduates will, of course, take place in English only, and in their own way will undermine the place of the French language, particularly in the metropolis. […]

By waiting many more years before taking action, are we once again escaping a whole generation of Anglophones who could thus express themselves correctly in French?

Is it so crazy to dream of a Quebec where everyone can express themselves with ease in the language of Michel Tremblay?

Cegep Garneau, Cegep visit for the start of the school year, Quebec, August 21, 2020. Photo PASCAL HUOT / JOURNAL DE QUEBEC / AGENCE QMI

Mia K. Bellemare

Ex-student of an English CEGEP

university student


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