Official bilingualism in Canada dies

Geo: Canada

On February 22nd, the Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity(NPLD) organized a top-class online seminar on the subject of immersion teaching in a bilingual context.

The exclusively female speakers were:

  • Jasone Cenoz, professor of research methodology in education at the University of the Basque Country and president of the educational science committee of the Spanish state research agency AEI.
  • Vesna Crnić-Grotić, chairwoman of the expert committee of European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages at the Council of Europe.
  • Edel Ní Chorráin, Vice Director of Education Services at the Irish Language Development Institute Foras na Gaelige.
  • Christina Gestrin, Secretary General of the Folktinget, the Swedish Assembly in Finland.
  • Mònica Pereña Pérez, President of Linguapax International, Vice Director General Language and Multilingualism in the Education Department of Generalitat de Catalunya.

I was particularly interested in what was said in the lectures about the role of immersion (and CLIL) in the context of language minorities.

It coincides with what we had already rudimentarily gleaned from the experiences in Canada and in particular the USA - namely that the immersion especially for members of the national Majority society is suitable to a Minority language to learn. Not the other way around.

But the clarity with which this insight was brought forward in this seminar is particularly illuminating.

In addition, Prof. Jasone Cenoz describes in her lecture what the main difference is between immersion and CLIL: Through immersion, mainly a minority language is taught and learned, through CLIL mainly English.

In this regard, it is at least a bit strange that in South Tyrol learning German or Italian is referred to as CLIL (presumably around the "stimulus word" Immersion to bypass).

In the following I want to reproduce some quotes from the NPLD lectures that are significant from my point of view. The entire lecture can be accessed at the link above and is, in my opinion, extremely worthwhile. Among other things, Ms. Pereña Pérez explains approaches to integrating the languages ​​of origin of children whose first language is not one of the local official languages.

The idea of ​​immersion in Europe is closely linked to "reversing the language change", as [Joshua] Fishman called it. Immersion is intended to help in the attempt to stop the process of loss or weakening of minority languages. So in Europe we have a combination of programs that are language preservation and development for speakers of minority languages ​​and immersion programs for speakers of majority languages ​​or other home languages. So it's a combination of both. Strictly speaking, it is about immersion for those who speak the majority language or another language at home.

- Prof. Jasone Cenoz

I must underline that the Charter [of regional or minority languages] - regardless of the need to maintain teaching in the official state language - does not concern the protection of the official state language. Because this is a national question. And as some examples from Canada show, the national majority cannot be treated like a minority, regardless of the particular situation. This is one of the conclusions of the Human Rights Committee in relation to the International Covenant on Political Rights.

- Vesna Crnić-Grotić

Canadian model immersion was introduced in Finland in the late 1970s. It is an optional course offer that exists for those who have the majority language - in this case Finnish - as their first language and who would otherwise not naturally come into contact with the immersion language Swedish. […] Let me give you an example from the Finnish school Keskuskoulu in the bilingual community of Vasa: The school has 400 students in years 1 to 6. Two thirds of the students receive immersion training, and to be clear: all of these students have Finnish as their mother tongue. In the first year of school all lessons are in Swedish and when the pupils are in their 5th-6th grade. When you reach class, half of the lessons will be held in the immersion language [Swedish], the other half in the first language and other languages. The teachers who teach the immersion language only speak this language to the students, as it is important that the students hear and use the language in different functions and situations.

- Christina Gestrin

Translations from English by me.

See also:①②③④⑤⑥

Cohesion + InclusionMigraziunMinority ProtectionPlurilinguismoPoliticsScolaScience | Best PracticesCharter of Minority LanguagesCLIL / ImmersionZitać | | Social media | Basque Country-EuskadiCanadaCatalunyaEuropeFinland-SuomiIrelandUSA | Council of Europe | German