Is the Dream of a Bilingual Canada Waning?



    French Second Language and Francophone High School Students from
    Whitehorse to Charlottetown will Gather at French for the Future's
    National Ambassador Youth Forum to Air Their Views

    TORONTO, Feb. 8 /CNW/ - Maintaining the Canadian ideal of a bilingual
society is challenged by many factors. According to 2006 Statistics Canada
census data, only 13 per cent of French second language students outside
Quebec aged 15-19 said they were bilingual, compared to 16.3 per cent in 1996.
Even more alarming than this decline is that many of these students lose the
ability to speak French after they leave high school.
    "Our education systems do well in developing a core group of bilingual
kids, but most graduate without a sense of how they can continue to hone their
French skills throughout their lives," says Anne Kothawala, President of
French for the Future.
    Francophone students outside Quebec face an even more daunting challenge
of maintaining not only their language, but also their culture while living in
predominantly English-speaking provinces. An exploration of these issues and
ways to remedy the situation will form the basis for discussion among fluently
bilingual French second language students and their Francophone counterparts,
who will converge upon York University's bilingual Glendon College for this
National Forum from February 9-12, 2008.
    During their four-day Toronto visit, the Ambassadors will be mentored on
their role in shaping future policies on bilingualism, be briefed on the
reality of changing cultural and linguistic demographics, and brainstorm new
ways of promoting linguistic duality. The students will also discover the
advantages and incentives available in French-speaking colleges and
universities, the job market, and have their eyes opened to the life skill
they possess to discover the rest of the world. The Forum will also feature
internationally renowned author John Ralston Saul as keynote speaker at the
opening plenary on February 9th. Saul is one of the founders of French for the
Future.
    "We organize events like this so that our Ambassadors return home to
their communities invigorated as advocates for bilingualism. They write
letters to their local newspaper editors, make presentations to various
organizations and spread the word to their friends," added Ms. Kothawala, who
is also President and CEO of the Canadian Newspaper Association.

    French for the Future was created after the Quebec referendum in 1995 in
order to promote linguistic duality in Canada. A major goal of French for the
Future is to highlight the positive social and career benefits and to forge
linguistic and cultural links among secondary school students who are enrolled
in French first and second language courses.

    French for the Future, in partnership with Apathy is Boring and the
University of Ottawa have also organized a national essay contest for Canada's
high school students to explore why they probably won't vote. Winners in the
two categories will be awarded $20,000 scholarships to the University of
Ottawa. The deadline for essay submissions is March 18th. Essays must be
written in French only and students attending French first language and French
second language schools are encouraged to participate.

    Glendon College is located at 2275 Bayview Avenue (at Lawrence Avenue),
Toronto ON M4N 3M6





For further information:

For further information: French for the Future: Marc Pandi,
Communications Manager (bilingual), Tel: (416) 203-9900 x.221, Cell: (416)
939-0248, E-mail: marcpandi@french-future.org, Website: www.french-future.org;
Glendon Campus of York University: Tobi Strohan, Director of Recruitment and
Marketing, Tel: (416) 736-2100 ext. 88337, Fax: (416) 487-6786, Email:
tstrohan@glendon.yorku.ca, Website: www.glendon.yorku.ca

Organization Profile

FRENCH FOR THE FUTURE INC.

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