Jessica Irvine resides on Treaty 4 land – Home of the Nakota, Dakota, Lakota, Saulteaux, Nêhiyawak (Cree), and Métis. She completed her Bachelor of Education in French Education at the University of Regina. Currently she teaches grade 1 through 8 Core French with Regina Public Schools. She has also returned to the University of Regina and is completing her Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Her research interests include curriculum development, language policy, identity theory, cultural, Indigenous language revitalization, creating curriculums based on one’s “place”, lifewriting, qualitative inquiry, Indigenous methodologies, bilingualism, and multilingualism. Jessica’s thesis will focus on the cultural outcomes of the Saskatchewan Core French curriculum from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. When Jessica isn’t writing, reading, or researching, she is either out running or hiking with her 4-legged running partner, Ginny, or training for Spartan obstacle course races.
As a new language-learning-crazy-mom who tries to expose her child to a maximum of languages, I made what would seem a bad decision: I chose a monolingual daycare for my baby. Yes I did. Even worse than that, I chose a monolingual day care in the majority language. Adios! Goodbye! Au revoir! plurilinguisme, le sort en est jeté, direz-vous. Well, I had my reasons and I haven’t lost hope in raising a wonderful multilingual child. Here is why. Continue reading
I grew up as a monolingual French speaker somewhere on Montreal’s south shore. I learned some English at school, but always thought I had no talent for languages. I thought it might even jeopardize my undergraduate studies and future career as an anthropologist. Then, I had to learn Spanish to get a practicum gig in Cuba. I knew very little about Cuba and even less about Spanish. Uno, dos, tres, una cerveza por favor, gracías (esti). Not even sure it was that good. Then… I fell in love. Not only with Spanish, but with languages. That was in 1999. I was 22 years old.
I was recently teaching an ESL class of intermediate-level adults when the topic of being bilingual/multilingual came up; we’d been listening to a news story about how being bilingual boosts brainpower and decreases the chance of memory problems later in life. When I asked my students if they felt bilingual, I was sorry to see only a few of the two dozen students raise their hands. And yet, when I asked them to tell me whether they used English every day for communicative tasks like doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping and parent-teacher interviews, they all said yes.
After the chaos of a summer filled with travelling, working, family visits and July 1st “déménagement”, I was grateful to barbecue with good friends in my new backyard. We
reconnected over food, stories and laughter, updating each other on our summer adventures. The stories were told in a variety of languages too, showing off the multilingual competencies of my friends. English seemed to be the common language, but at a few different moments throughout the evening, some groups formed to share and laugh in Arabic or Spanish, neither of which I speak or understand. I observed these small groups admiringly…but with the distinct feeling that I was an observer, an outsider.