Fighting for my child to be bilingual

Quick, jump through those hoops, stand on one leg, sing Frère Jacques backwards and *maybe*, we’ll give your child the blessed Certificate of Eligibility which allows her to attend English school. Maybe. But probably not.

Good God, how complicated does it have to be? Prove that daddy or mommy went to elementary school in English (i.e. a letter written on official school letterhead proving attendance for 4 years in a Canadian province but 5 years in Ontario); then prove that mommy or daddy are Canadian citizens. When you’re done with that, provide your child’s birth certificate, but the LONG FORM because we want to be extra sure that you’re not some pesky illegal immigrant or, god forbig, a legit Canadian who dares to ask for his child to be educated in English, because we won’t stand for that.

Oh no, we want to “protect the French language” by forcing our citizens, whether Francophone, Anglophone or allophone, to attend French school, where we’ll make damn sure that English instruction is ridiculously poor and begun well after the time where linguistic acquisition is best achieved, so make certain that we spawn an entire generation of unilingual French speakers !! Then, just to make things more difficult, we’ll be sure to require that everyone be bilingual in order to get work at McDonald’s or Wal-Mart.

Can you tell I’ve got my soapbox with me today?

Let’s be clear here. I *want* my child to be educated in French. It’s a tough language and the grammar’s…ridiculous, so I’d rather she spend her elementary and secondary years in a French school. It’s what worked for me, and I’m happy to say that my mastery of both languages is quite good. However, I’d also like to give my child the gift of bilingualism (and heck even trilingualism if that were possible) by sending her to an English preschool, where she’ll acquire English through play.

Is that going to be possible without resorting to travelling to an expensive private preschool? I’m not quite sure yet.


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