On the other side of the “Bonjour/Hi” controversy currently raging in Quebec (The Canadian Press, 2017, Nov 30), there is French Immersion (FI); suffice to say, perspectives on bilingualism differ within our province.
I have come to know French immersion deeply over the years as a student, teacher, and researcher in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Throughout my life, this instructional program has been a source of tremendous enrichment, as it has been for millions of Canadians before me since its beginnings in 1965. Moreover, the benefits of French immersion have been documented extensively in peer-reviewed research, which include strong French proficiency, positive cultural identity, and social closeness to native French speakers. Nevertheless, writers for the Globe and Mail have repeatedly cast French immersion in an uncharitable light. I would like to respond to two relatively recent and especially erroneous articles: French immersion could do with a dose of reality (Gee, 2016) and There’s just one problem with French immersion… well, several, actually (Wente, 2016). Continue reading