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Poll: Canadians think its cool to be bilingual

Well, this was certainly a pleasant thing to read today:

The CROP poll shows 81 per cent of those surveyed support the idea that Canada is a bilingual country. An even larger majority, 91 per cent, said the prime minister should be able to speak both English and French…80 per cent said they believed that being bilingual could help them find a job. Seventy-eight per cent said it could help with travel and personal development.

I’m sure there will be some wailing and gnashing of teeth somewhere at the results of this poll.. but there shouldn’t be.

I took 5 years of French in High School, when it was only mandatory to take it for 1 year. I’ve drifted away from it a bit since then (though I can comprehend some conversation when I hear it), but I did acquire a software package to learn (or “re-learn”) how to speak French, and I’ve been meaning to do that but always putting it off. So, perhaps this will inspire me to start taking the lessons.

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6 comments to Poll: Canadians think its cool to be bilingual

  • Ed King

    [quote comment=”1317″]I think if you told the authors of the Laurendeau-Dunton report that Canada would still be more than 80% monolingual they’d probably be a bit let down.[/quote]

    Maybe… who knows? But I’m not so sure. The whole point of official bilingualism was that English- and French-speaking minorities would not have to become bilingual in order to receive services from federal institutions. I believe the authors of the report would be very happy to see that thousands of French Canadians proudly serve in the Canadian Forces whithout having to learn English, or that Canadians can be tried or give evidence in the official language of their choice in federal court, for example.

    I agree with Werner that learning a second language is a great experience which gives you a valuable skill. I wish my home province, Ontario, would follow the example of Quebec, where second-(official)language classes begin in elementary school and are mandatory through high school.

    However, the objective of the Official Languages Act was not to encourage bilingualism in the Canadian population. Its goals were much more modest: to help English- and French-speaking minorities thrive and participate in all federal institutions in their native language. I don’t believe statistics on the rate of bilingualism in the Canadian population are relevant in evaluating the success of the policy.

  • Learning and knowing several languages is a great gift – and, as they recently found and confirmed, bilingualism helps to stave off Alzheimer’s and similar conditions.

    In my own life experience, there’s nothing more rewarding than the ability to speak and understand several languages.

  • I’d say the intended scope of the bi-lingual, bi-cultural movement was larger than merely the provision of services, even if that’s what the thrust of legal bilingualism eventually became. I think if you told the authors of the Laurendeau-Dunton report that Canada would still be more than 80% monolingual they’d probably be a bit let down. Or not, I dunno. I seem to be carrying a portable raincloud this week.

  • Ed King

    Jason,

    The aim of the Official Languages Act was never to make Canadians bilingual. It was meant to make the federal government bilingual so Canadians could receive all government of Canada services in the either official language.

  • I’m certainly pleased to see this, and it gives me motivation to keep practising and trying to improve my french (though I have been told that my french isn’t as bad as I think it is).

  • I’m a bilingualism fan; at the same time it’s always important not to get too smug about the real scope of our bilingualism accomplishments. When the policy was introduced the aim was to become a truly bilingual country; the result has been to create a slightly bilingual country that thinks it is quite bilingual, and that bilingualism is cool.

    That’s better than nothing; I’m glad we did. I try to keep my French up a little, although I find languages a trial. (I speak awful French and awful German. I sometimes wonder if it’s fairer to say that I’m trilingual or “1.5 lingual,” which would probably be nearer the brutal truth.)

    Anyway, doom and gloom aside, this is a nice statistic. The more bilingual we are, the better, and positive attitudes towards bilingualism only help.

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