Archive for the ‘CBC’ Category

Response to CBC’s 180 French Immersion Opinion
February 21, 2016

Ok – I get it. You think FI parents think their kids deserve better. But, with sincere respect, here are a few points I think you missed.

On the one hand, you make the argument about elitism and how FI parents are robbing other parents of support and appreciation for English schools. Then you promptly debunk it by saying that fewer than 10% of children in the program become bilingual. So our efforts are lost. But I see these kids every day. They can speak French. They can read French. They can do math in French. They can do “dictee” and “discours”. They have two sets of words. Sure, there’s one set for the classroom and one set for the playground. But they still have two sets. It’s unlikely a large percentage of them will serve as bilingual members of the public service but that’s NOT THE POINT.
The point is, It does not take more effort to have kids in an FI programme. Unless, of course, you are one of those parents who think that your child’s success is a tribute to your personal awesomeness. That’s NOT what FI is about. FI is about giving children the opportunity to learn things in more than one way, in more than one language. It’s about diversity and brain plasticity.
The only difference between going to French Immersion and going to a French school is this: the parents. I went to school in French. My notes and report cards came home “en Francais”. As a parent of two boys in FI, my notes and report cards come home in English. “C’est tout.” It’s not that big a deal. Can we please stop making it such a big deal.
French Immersion is not about me as a parent. It’s about my kids. All children in Kindergarten are geniuses. They could learn three and four languages. I have yet to meet a five year old child incapable of this. We’re talking about the plasticity of the child’s brain.
We discount this ability by putting our limits and our values on their potential. A letter is a letter. A sound is a sound. A word is a word. If we restrict that potential to fit our view of what children should and could be, we rob ourselves of a generation of genius.
I think parents need to check their biases at the classroom door. Our goal is not to make them in our image. Our goal is to give them every opportunity to succeed. And the brain plasticity that comes from learning the world in two, or three or more languages is how we honour how very capable they are.
In the not too distant future, they will make our decisions, spend our money, innovate our future, solve our problems. Is it not our responsibility to give them every tool possible to achieve that? I say yes. Also “oui” and “si” and, well, you get the idea.
Thanks for exploring the topic. It’s a good problem to have. One I’d spend yet another “nuit blanche” to get my kids into French Immersion in Salmon Arm. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
Louise Wallace, M.Pub
Mediability Corporate Communications
Salmon Arm, BC
250 833.5554