#99 – Getting Schooled, Part Six: The Great One (Language)

English Canadians sure are proud to speak English.

Understanding multiple languages is the global norm. Africans tend to speak at least a few languages; Arabs, too, tend to educate their young in other tongues. From Japanese students desperately learning English to Europeans considering which language they wish to pursue for a third or fourth language, most of the world wants to know what the rest of the world is actually talking about. Even Americans are starting to pick up Spanish – heck, the Quebecois have been learning English for decades.

Too bad English Canada won’t join the party.

English Canada has an appalling track record with teaching French (the supposed “natural” second language of Canadians, says Ottawa). Less than half of English Canadians even want a second language, because fuck those benefits and the mobility that comes from being able to do business in different places. Bilingualism is on the rise in Quebec, with nearly half of the province speaking both French and English. Contrast this with Alberta’s amazing 6% bilingualism rate with French and English, or “bilingual by law” New Brunswick’s 33% rate of understanding both languages. Only half of English speakers in Canada are even make proud of having French in the country at all. Because if there’s anything English Canada is good for, it’s whining that people don’t love English enough.

Is learning English a good thing? Of course it is! Learning as many languages as possible is a good thing, really – the problem is that English Canada doesn’t bother with teaching in one langauge well, far less encouraging people to speak in more languages. The cultural benefits of the Cree learning their own tongue, the benefits in terms of actually having a singular national identity that could come from bothering to meet the Quebecois halfway instead of handing out conjugation tables in elementary school and then washing your hands of the French language shortly after kids learn to ask where the bathroom is – nah, those don’t matter because English Canada’s limp-dick business classes don’t want to learn another language. My French education was literally in the form of VHS tapes with English subtitles at the bottom and fucking handouts. I’m pissed because I was cheated out of a third language and English Canada seems to think that this is a good thing.

Instead of trying to learn, English Canadians whinge and wheeze and whine about French. The government of Quebec funds two highly-regarded English-speaking universities in Montreal alone; by contrast, the rest of Canada has one French university and one “bilingual” institution, both of which provide pathetic educations. Clearly the French just hate the English language and everything about it so, so much. Their tiny group of “French-language Gestapo” who make sure that the Sign Law is being followed is obviously a sign that they hate the English. Unlike the massive cultural weight and sneering that English Canada throws at French Canada – that’s just what neighbors do, eh?

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