'Parlez-vous anglais?': Canada's Anglos struggle with French (2 articles)
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Wed Sep 26 13:37:50 UTC 2007
'Parlez-vous anglais?': Canada's Anglos struggle with French
14 hours ago
MONTREAL (AFP) — A majority of Canada's anglophones admit to having a
subpar knowledge of the French language, but support the country's
official bilingual policy, a poll out Tuesday showed. About 70 percent
of anglophones want to be more proficient in French, a language that
only five percent of them say they speak, read and write fluently,
according to the Angus Reid Strategies poll. English is the mother
tongue of 17.3 million Canadians, while French is the first language
for 6.7 million people, most of whom live in Quebec province,
according to the latest census in 2001.
The census also counted 5.2 million people who consider themselves
bilingual, representing 17.7 percent of Canada's population. Some 44
percent of anglophones admit having no French speaking ability, while
43 percent say they have some knowledge. For reading, 43 percent have
no ability and 45 percent some knowledge, while 57 percent say they
have no writing ability and 33 percent claim some knowledge.
Despite their lack of French-speaking skills, 58 percent of
anglophones say Canada should continue to have two official languages
and 56 percent say they should know at least a little French, the poll
found. Only about six percent say they are highly proficient in each
language skill. The highest rate of bilingualism among anglophones was
in Quebec, where 80 percent say they are highly proficient or fluent
French speakers and 56 percent can read the language.
In Canadian provinces outside Quebec, French is the second most widely
spoken language, followed closely by Mandarin.
Statistics Canada, a government agency, will release in December its
most recent language census.
Most Canadians want to speak French, but can't
Tue Sep 25, 2007 11:18pm IST
By Jennifer Forhan
TORONTO (Reuters) - English-speaking Canadians really want to be
bilingual, but only 5 percent of them feel comfortable reading,
writing and speaking their country's second official language,
according to a new opinion poll.
The online poll, conducted by AngusReidStrategies, showed that 70
percent of English-speakers want to speak better French, which is the
main language in Quebec, but which is used much less frequently in
"It's good for everyone to be able to (speak) all of it," Heather
Schiller, a 24-year-old dancer and actor told Reuters in Toronto.
"It makes us seem more educated. And you get paid more if you're
bilingual. The opportunities are greater."
Schiller attended French immersion in elementary school but admits she
would be hard-pressed to hold down a conversation now. "I will study
it again, within the next five years," she said. "That way I can go
anywhere. As a performer, I would get to do more if I could speak
The survey of just under 1,000 Canadians showed that 58 percent of
English-speakers want Canada to keep having two official languages,
although support for a bilingual country varied greatly depending on
In Alberta, which has a relatively small number of native French
speakers, 55 percent of respondents said Canada needed only one
According to figures from the 2001 census, the most recent data
available, some 17.5 million of Canada's 29.4 million population say
English is their mother tongue, while 6.4 million are native French
"We should remain bilingual," said Lance Alexander, a management
consultant in Toronto, who took five years of French in high school
but says he has not retained much of it.
"I think it's hugely important and I think it's one of the things that
differentiates Canada from all the other countries in the world. Not
too many countries have two or more official languages. So I think
it's something we should be proud of."
The online poll found that Quebec was by far the most bilingual
province in Canada, with 56 percent of English-speakers describing
themselves as fluent or nearly fluent in French.
Language has often been a divisive issue in Canada. Quebec laws limit
enrollment in the province's English-language school system, and
stipulate that French words on public signage must be larger and more
visible than the English.
Even octagonal stop signs, which carry the word "Stop" in France, bear
the ungrammatical "Arret" in Quebec.
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