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Canadian Bilingualism


Aside from the debate about where the best bagels are – Montreal or New York – many language teachers admire Montreal and its bilingualism.

I have been there a couple of times in the last few months and am always amazed by how speakers of both languages can so easily switch back and forth. Not that they have the knowledge to do it, but how they switch at times for no clear reason. Sitting in a restaurant, people can start ordering in English and then finish in French. it baffles me! How have the 2 languages become so fluid?

A major reason, beyond the obvious one of having to get along, many middle-class schools use ‘Canadian-style immersion’. This system of learning gives students most of their school instruction in the second language. The result is bilingualism, not the replacement of one language with another.

This method really does work. In contrast, while I was in school in Ontario, we only learned French for an hour a day. I can tell you, it pales in comparison – there not enough tuition to make it worthwhile (short of asking where the washroom is later in life on a trip to Paris). Not so in Montreal. People really are bilingual. They can think and function equally in both languages. I wonder why this style of learning has not been initiated in areas like LA where Hispanic kids are at a disadvantage with English.

And the bagels really ARE better in Montreal.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2007 at 5:28 pm and is filed under Canada. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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