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Title of Presentation:

A Language Policy Analysis of the Quebec French Immersion Program

Type of Presentation:

30' paper

Biographical Information:

Julian Hermida is Assistant Professor at Dalhousie University's Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology. He holds doctoral degrees from McGill University and the Catholic University of Cordoba. Prior to joining Dalhousie, he was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Ottawa.

Summary of Presentation:

The paper explores the linguistic policy behind the French Immersion program as applied in Quebec and the Quebec governments' opposition to adopt alternative non-elite bilingual education programs. The objective is to deconstruct the Quebec linguistic policy in order to assess the adaptability of the program to the Latin America region.

Abstract:

Since its inception in St. Lambert, Quebec in 1965 the Quebec language immersion program has attracted attention of socio-linguists, bilingual education experts, and government officials throughout the world. The aim of this program is to give students the opportunity to achieve, by secondary school graduation, a level of bilingualism sufficient to function well in a French-speaking community. Its second language methods have been studied with great interest and are currently being used in many countries for the teaching of Spanish, French, English and other languages. In the last few years some academics and second language educators have proposed the adoption of Quebec-like immersion programs in some Latin American countries. These studies and recommendations have focused mainly on immersion methodological aspects. However, the linguistic policy issues behind Quebec immersion program- are less known. Research findings show that the program achieves successful outcomes when it is implemented as elite bilingual education, i.e., education for middle class, white, Anglophone, non immigrant students, with parents that have the -intellectual and financial- resources to be highly involved in the every day education of their children. Access to the French immersion program in Quebec is severely restricted and recent changes in language legislation have closed the entrance possibilities even further by denying eligibility to students that attended private English schools, a strategy used mainly by immigrant students as the right to attend a French language Immersion school -considered part of the English school board system- is restricted only to children whose parents had been educated in English in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada. The proposed paper explores the linguistic policy behind the French Immersion program as applied in Quebec and the Quebec governments' opposition to adopt alternative non-elite bilingual education programs. The objective is to deconstruct the Quebec linguistic policy context in order to assess its real value. This will help evaluate the convenience of adopting immersion programs in Latin America.

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