EDUCATION PROGRAMMES IN CANADA
Canada is a
relatively young nation, founded in 1867 with a population of approx. 25 million citizens.
It has a federal
government with: 10 provincial legislatures, 2 territorial legislatures and 1 national
parliament located in Ottawa.
is highly decentralised.
There were three
founding groups: Native peoples (including Inuit and Indians), the French, and the
English. Groups differ greatly in population size, geographical distribution, and social
and economic power.
British and French origin form the largest ethnic groups in Canada;
40 % British and
French 27%. French and British Canadians are unequally distributed across the country.
approximately 78 different indigenous cultural groups in Canada. In recognition of the
characteristics of Canadian society as being an 'ethnic mosaic', the federal government
has adopted official policies towards bilingualism and multiculturalism. According to the
Official Languages Act, passed in 1969 English and French, official languages of Canada
for all purposes of the Parliament and Government of Canada, have equality of status and
equal rights and privileges in all the governmental institutions of Canada.
In the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) public education will be available in all provinces
in both official languages, where numbers warrant.
English lack of
responsiveness to their concerns led French-speaking Quebecois to make public demands for
change. The early 1960s saw political, social, and, some, militant action. This
social unrest was called the Quiet Revolution.
community in Quebec was also dissatisfied with inequities in the language situation: some
English-speaking Canadians began to become more concerned about English - French
relations. There was an emerging awareness in the English community, following the Quiet
Revolution, that French was becoming an important language of communication in most
spheres of life in Quebec and English alone would no longer assure social and economic
success in the province.
With the growing
importance of French as the main working language of Quebec and increasing dissatisfaction
with the linguistic barriers between English and French Canadians, a concerned group of
English-speaking parents in St Lambert, outside Montreal, began to meet informally in the
early 1960s to discuss the situation (Lambert & Tucker, 1972).
for 2 years, they succeeded in getting the school district to set up an experimental
kindergarten immersion class in September 1965.
Aims of the St
- become competent in speaking, reading and writing
- reach normal achievement levels throughout the
curriculum including the English language;
- appreciate the traditions and culture of French
speaking Canadians as well as English speaking Canadians.
In short, the
aims were for children to become bilingual and bicultural without loss of achievement.
education has bilingualism as an intended outcome, and therefore represents a 'strong'
use of the term bilingual education.
Withdrawal Classes and Transitional approaches would count as a weak
use of the term bilingual education because such schemes educate bilingual children,
without having bilingualism, as defined in content, aim and structure, as a specific
of Immersion Bilingual education
education is an umbrella term. Canadian immersion programmes differ in terms of the
- age at which a child commences the experience. This
may be at the kindergarten or infant stage (early immersion, which is the most
popular route); at nine to ten years old (delayed or middle immersion), or at
secondary level (late immersion);
- amount of time spent in immersion. Total
immersion usually commences with 100 % immersion in the second language, after two or
three years reducing to 80% per week for the following three or four years, finishing
junior schooling with approximately 50% immersion in French per week. Partial
immersion provides close to 50% immersion in the second language throughout infant and
Rapid spread of
immersion bilingual education since 1965 (Rebuffot, 1993). Currently there are around
300,000 English speaking Canadian children in approx. 2000 French immersion schools, i.e.
6% of the total school population in Canada.