Is Bilingual Education Still Necessary In Canada?

bilinguals in canada

A recent article in the Huffington Post brought up a great point. It spoke about New Brunswick being the only bilingual province left in Canada. As such, all government and state-sponsored jobs in New Brunswick require a person to be fully bilingual. Now, without getting into the debate as to what is fully bilingual, we can definitely start the conversation around the merits of bilingual education. However, before we have that conversation, we must define exactly what is bilingual education.

Bilingual Education: What Is It And What Are The Benefits?

As this article states, it isn’t fair for a province to raise up a generation of anglaphones only to reject them for some of the better jobs in the government due to the fact that, well, they are anglaphones. This quote sums it up nicely:

I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t care to have my tax dollars going toward the building of a thicker layer of increasingly centralized elites.

Long gone are the days of thinking that learning two languages at once¬†will mess a kid up. Now, thanks to a lot of recent research on being bilingual and bilingual education, the world is realizing that there are an increasing number of benefits to being educated in two languages. In fact, the world over, it is more common to speak two languages from birth than one. It’s estimated that about 52% of the world’s population has spoken two languages from birth. In some countries, like India for example, speaking three or four languages is considered common.

Another benefit of bilingualism, apart from being able to get additional jobs, like government jobs in New Brunswick, is that the pay is generally slightly higher. Bilinguals only comprise about 17% of Canada, by some estimates, and perhaps realistically less depending on what you consider bilingual. The law of supply and demand, however, would dictate that a law firm, for example, needing a bilingual paralegal would have to pay a slightly higher salary considering there would be less available paralegas to choose from.

Why Has The West Shifted Away From Bilingualism?

We westerners seem to have made a shift from bilingualism in the last few centuries. Asia, Europe, Africa, Eurasia, and most other non-English speaking countries have a rich and health culture of bilingualism. In Switzerland, for example, there are four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romanisch. These four languages live in a linguistic harmony and their kids are not running around confused and unable to muster a single syllable.

All told, we need to consider a paradigm shift back towards bilingualism; celebrating diversity and differences in a healthy and constructive way. Instead of seeing bumper stickers that say things like illegal immigrant hunting permit, we need bumper stickers in multiple languages promoting the very differences we are prone to despise.