Saturday, May 31, 2008

Interesting comments from Canada's Official Languages Commissioner

Bloggers' note: The following is an excerpt from the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages Annual Report 2007-2008 (page 74)
The Commissioner invites the provinces and territories to step up their efforts to ensure greater continuity in second-language instruction, from kindergarten until the students enter the labour market. Programs must be strengthened so that they produce positive results and support student retention. Of course, the quality of second-language courses and programs and the strengthening of these programs through opportunities for social interaction, cultural activities and exchanges are key factors for attracting and retaining young students.

The Commissioner has therefore undertaken a study on second-language learning opportunities in Canadian universities. Interest in this issue is partially a result of the high number of graduates of immersion programs and other French-as-asecond-language learning programs who are currently studying or about to begin studying at the post-secondary level. The new socio-economic situation brought about by globalization and the skills required for the knowledge economy, including language skills and openness towards other cultures, must also be taken into account.

In addition, within the framework of public service renewal, the Government of Canada needs a pool of bilingual recruits. It is one of the reasons that the Commissioner is concerned about the recommendations made by the commission charged with reviewing French-as-a-second-language programs and activities in New Brunswick and the decision of the province’s Minister of Education to end early immersion programs. A very large majority of experts still agree that immersion, and early immersion in particular, is the best way to learn a second language.

For example, in its action plan Promoting language learning and linguistic diversity 2004–2006, the European Commission writes that early language learning may result in greater knowledge and skills in terms of speaking, reading, writing and understanding. Learning a language at an early age also makes it easier to learn languages later in life. ...

Click here to link to full report

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