Language integration of anglophones in the Québec French school system: a missed opportunity for research?

Back in September, my group and I presented an article (Allen, 2006) on the integration of immigrants into Québec high schools via the ‘Classe d’Accueil’ program. The article stood out as it highlighted many issues facing how our province handles linguistic diversity and language integration in an ever-changing, multicultural city. It also allowed me to reach out to a friend who teaches ‘Classe d’Accueil’ and get some much needed insight into how difficult it can be for students and teachers alike.

Recently, another notion struck me, which doesn’t strictly pertain to immigrant integration per se, but does relate to the idea of language identity and linguistic integration in general. What about the growing number of English speaking students who enter into the French system?

I began thinking about this because at the high school where I work, there are quite a lot of anglophone students. Granted, this is a private school and many of them have the home support and resources necessary to achieve a high level of academic integration. Many of them have even been through their entire schooling in French, but speak English at home with family and friends. However, they are often targeted by teachers during staff meetings because they struggle with French more than other students. I’ve even overheard teachers saying that it’s down to the fact many of them form little “anglophone cliques” outside of class.

I’m wondering if any of these teachers consider the concept of language identity being fluid or continually evolving, whereby said students perform and construct their identities differently depending on context. Personally, I’ve seen many of these students ‘code-switching’ with other students in the corridors, and other students having seamless bilingual conversation with francophone students in their free time. This also makes me think of the recent post on this blog about the need for school boards and universities alike to incorporate the idea of language identity into their policies. Wouldn’t this be a good thing to help reduce the number of teachers and administrators from viewing the use of other languages as problematic?

It’s also interesting to consider how the situation must be in less affluent schools. Are there many anglophone students in French schools located in poor areas and to whom such resources and family support are not readily available? If so, how are they viewed and how do they view themselves? I tried searching for research about this, but to no joy. If anyone has any links, or any comments about this, I’d be very happy to hear from you!

Matthew Lazenby

Allen, D. (2006). Who’s in and who’s out? Language and the integration of new immigrant youth in Quebec. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 10(2-3), 251–263.

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