CEGEPs in the blind spot of anglicization in Montreal

The explosion in the number of foreign students who do not master French threatens the linguistic balance in Montreal. In a new essay to be published on October 7, that The duty obtained, researcher Frédéric Lacroix shines the spotlight on what he considers to be a blind spot of Bill 96: the massive recruitment of future citizens of Quebec through the gateway to teaching in English.

The arrival of thousands of international students is changing the face of Montreal, which risks becoming an “English-speaking city-state” if Quebec does not react, says Frédéric Lacroix. He delivers this plea in the book Free choice? English CEGEPs and international students: diversion, anglicization and fraud, edited by the French Quebec Movement.

For the author, there is no doubt that the extremely widespread “bonjour / hi” in downtown businesses is due in large part to the recruitment of thousands of foreign students who have no fluency in French. These young people study, work and consume in English. This is not how they will become citizens at ease with the national language, the author believes.

“We socialize these newcomers in English. We integrate them into English-speaking Quebec, then we accept them as permanent immigrants and we pretend to francize them by offering them a course. This strategy is insane in my eyes. At best, they will have some knowledge of French, but they will not have the use of French ”, affirms the author to To have to.

His work Why Bill 101 is a failure, published in 2020, won the President of the National Assembly’s political essay of the year award. Frédéric Lacroix hopes that his new book will have as much impact in the political class, while Bill 96 aimed at strengthening French is studied in parliamentary committee.

The author in no way calls into question the right of the English-speaking community of Quebec to education, health care and a series of other services in its language. Attendance at English-language universities and CEGEPs, however, greatly exceeds the weight of the English minority because of the enthusiasm of Francophones and allophones for higher education in the language of Shakespeare.

This does not bode well for the future of French-speaking CEGEPs, despite the increase of nearly 22,000 students in the network expected by 2029, estimates Frédéric Lacroix. He believes that the freeze in the enrollment of English CEGEPs at the 2019 level, decreed by Quebec, is insufficient: Anglophones are already in the minority in English CEGEPs in Montreal, where they form approximately 40% of the enrollment. Allophones (38%) and students with French as their mother tongue (21%) will continue to massively populate the island’s English CEGEPs, to the detriment of French-speaking establishments.

“Major factor of anglicization”

The free choice of the language of instruction at college is a “major factor in the anglicization of Montreal,” denounces the author. He is convinced that the Legault government must extend Bill 101 to the college network, including non-subsidized private colleges, which are reminiscent of the famous “bridging schools” allowing access to education in English at the elementary and secondary levels.

Unsubsidized private colleges benefit greatly from this “commodification of education”. Radio-Canada and The duty documented how these colleges fill their classes with young people from India by offering short courses in English at high cost, which lead to a work permit and then permanent residence for students and their families. These colleges first and foremost sell access to Canada, argues Frédéric Lacroix.

Quebec has been able to remain largely French-speaking thanks to a series of factors, including the selection of immigrants familiar with the French language, recalls the author. However, Ottawa has opened the floodgatesimmigration temporary – over which Quebec has no control – over the past decade to attract much needed workers: the vast majority of immigrants now arrive in Canada on temporary study and work permits, which subsequently lead to permanent residence.

The massive recruitment of foreign students is part of the federal government’s immigration strategy. The objective was to double the number of students from other countries between the years 2014 and 2022.

This temporary immigration of workers and students was once marginal. It has become the main gateway to the country, and it is mostly in English that this happens, even in Quebec, deplores Frédéric Lacroix.

A meteoric rise

“When you look at the numbers, it’s really astounding. There has been an exponential growth in the number of international students and temporary immigration. In less than 10 years, we went from a situation where it was not on the radar screen to a major anglicization factor, ”he says.

The number of temporary immigrants to Canada increased sevenfold between 2000 and 2018, reaching 429,300 people. In 2019, Quebec welcomed 158,965 temporary immigrants (and 40,565 permanent).

The curve for the number of foreign students follows the same trend. In 2019, there were 73,505 foreign post-secondary students in Quebec, the majority of whom could speak English. More than 70% of them (63,050) were registered on the Island of Montreal. The increase has been meteoric at college, where their number has more than tripled in five years (from 6,285 in 2014 to 22,805 in 2019). This jump of 16,520 students is twice the size of Dawson College.

Universities and CEGEPs thus orient a large part of immigration according to their own interests, underlines Frédéric Lacroix. The solution would be to require that candidates for permanent residence have followed a program of studies in French.

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