Canada: Let children learn their own language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed Sep 10 15:18:39 UTC 2008

Let children learn their own language

Wednesday September 10th, 2008

Letter to the editor

The FSL program is drawing a lot of comment, and so it should. The
education system of N.B. has failed our children in many ways.
I recall a comparison of our system to that of Ontario 50 years ago.
Our children were at least one grade above those of that province.
What has changed it all? Our teachers are as dedicated today as they
were back then. If that is so, then our failure must be linked to
other factors. Personally, I see many areas of failure. Number one is
a lack of respect for teachers due to a total collapse of discipline
in the education system as a whole.

Teachers must be allowed to discipline their students, starting with
an enforced dress code. I don't mean suits and ties for the boys and
dresses for the girls, but at least insist on a clean and tidy
appearance. Jeans without torn knees, and get those ball hats off. How
does dressing like a slob prepare a child for a successful future? The
worst example of this is the teacher who dresses like a slob to make
the students feel comfortable. A senseless act by a thoughtless
educator. I have lived in countries where school uniforms were
standard dress. As you may realize, that removes a lot of stress (peer
pressure) from the student. Rather than sit in the washroom crying
because they don't have designer jeans like others, they sit
comfortably in the classroom and learn with their peers.

Now to the subject at hand. People much smarter than me have suggested
that French immersion is in fact "culling" students, according to
their abilities. Children from less fortunate families are left behind
by the system. How many parents are preparing their children for a
civil service career? From my experience, a sound education is vitally
important to success in the workforce and most certainly in the
professions. Many students struggle to learn the "three Rs." If they
are required to learn the basics in both languages, then the burden
can become larger than life and have a lasting negative effect.

I started second language training in Grade 9 at Fredericton High
School and achieved my highest marks in that subject. Later in life I
lived in France and conversational French came easy. I don't speak the
language now as I have no occasion to use it. Only a small percentage
of Canadians are unilingual French. I have no contact with them and
have no need nor desire to speak that language.
If preparing our children for a meaningful life means they have to
have a second language, then why not teach a useful language. For
example, Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish or the language of world trade,

The billions of dollars wasted on bilingualism since Trudeau's great
experiment would leave one to wonder just how rich our country would
be today if this great mass of money had been directed to national
health, medical research, higher education or to tame the national
debt. The national debt in 1968 was $30 billion. When Mulroney
defeated the Liberals in 1984 the debt had risen to $340 billion.
Shameful, to say the least. I feel the whole language issue should be
revisited with a view to the future of this country. It is time to
quit trying to relive the past.

The French language will not cease to exist. Look at the Italian
communities, the Hungarians and Polish communities out west. They are
as strong today as they wish to be. It shouldn't take a national
program to preserve a language. If French is meant to be the language
of Canada, let it happen on its own — don't force it down our throats.
Canadian unity will never be achieved through a forced language
policy. Let common sense prevail.

That's the way I see it.

— R.E. Ted Ross

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