Bernadine Conron, a school principal and well-versed in second language learning, asked this question to the Government [my emphasis added]:
I challenge your department to find one peer-reviewed, international, longitudinal study which indicates that second language acquisition impacts negatively on first language skills. If this were truly the case, New Brunswick students who do not have access to Early French Immersion in their neighbourhood schools would do statistically significantly better on Provincial Literacy Assessments. I know this is not the case. Early French Immersion students consistently score higher on literacy tests as language acquisition is transferable between (or among) languages. Current studies indicate that students who are struggling in their first language benefit from the explicit instruction in a second language setting.Premier Shawn Graham's response (see last post) included this:
There are several advantages of initial exposure to French in grade 5. By that grade, students will have a firm foundation in English literacy skills and will also have acquired the building blocks of numeracy in their first language. First language mastery provides a solid foundation for learning subsequent languages. An additional benefit of freeing a thirty-minute period daily in grades 1 through 4 will be the chance to offer students art, music, increased literacy, physical education and enrichment opportunities. Finally, mastery of basic French through IF in grade 5 will help students and parents to make informed decisions concerning the French program option that will best meet their needs in grade 6.The government is avoiding the central issue here. Second language learning does NOT detract from first language mastery. Learning a second language at an early stage improves ability in the first language. This is what the research clearly shows.
In English it's obfuscation* while in French it's obscurcissement, but it's all the same.
* Obfuscation is the concealment of meaning in communication, making it confusing and harder to interpret.