A recent study commissioned by the Centrale des syndicats du Quebec, the largest teacher’s union in Quebec, found that a growing number of francophone and allophone youth are opting to attend English-language colleges in the hopes of securing better jobs. The study expressed concern regarding this development, stating that it posed a threat to the maintenance of French as the “common language of Quebec society.”
Rather than seeing this phenomenon in a negative light, as many in Quebec certainly have, the results of the study should be seen as a reflection of the natural desire among students in Quebec to best prepare themselves for a job market in a country, continent and world that is far more English than French. More so, the results of the study should be seen as an example of the young people of Quebec “voting with their feet” against the restrictive legislation access regarding English-language education.
Despite what its language laws seem to indicate, Quebec is not a world unto itself. Contrary to the motives of the province’s linguistic legislation, a more than functional use of the English language is a necessity.
While it is important to maintain Quebec’s French heritage, English is the dominant world language at this point in time. The province’s education system is obviously not adequately preparing its students for such a world. If they were, French-speaking and allophone students would not be flocking to English schools at their first possible chance.
The fact is that fluency in English results in more opportunities and probably better success in the job market. Even in Quebec, which places so many restrictions on the use of the English language, recent studies have shown that individuals who use English more often than French in Montreal in the workplace generally receive higher salaries than those who don’t.
More than just being a reflection of the realities of the current job market, restrictive laws preventing Quebec students from attending English schools at an earlier level are not only dated, but they are also proving to no longer be beneficial.
It’s also a clear signal that young Quebecers are no longer satisfied with impractical and destructive laws restricting access to English language education.
English language education must be made more accessible in the province of Quebec. The time for restrictive legislation based on outdated linguistic nationalism is over.