New report says CEGEP students should have language choice

Conseil supérieur de la langue française recommends maintaining the status quo

Quebec shouldn’t restrict the ability of CEGEP students to choose whether they study in English or French, according to a new report by the government agency which advises the minister responsible for the province’s language laws.

The opposition Parti Québécois has called for Bill 101, which restricts access to English-language elementary and secondary schools, to be extended to CEGEPs.

Quebec high school students graduate in grade 11 and must attend a two-year CEGEP program before attending university in the province. CEGEPs also provide vocational training.

The PQ claims that allowing large numbers of francophones and allophones, those whose first language is neither English nor French, to attend English-language CEGEPs is contributing to the “anglicisation” of the Montreal area.

According to the Conseil supérieur de la langue française, restricting access to English-language CEGEPs could upset the linguistic balance in the province.

In their recommendations, the Conseil points out that the majority of allophone and 95 per cent of francophone CEGEP students attend French-language schools. The report also says that the percentage of allophone students choosing to attend French-language schools has increased by around 20 percentage points in the past 10 years.

Quebec’s culture minister, Christine St-Pierre welcomed the recommendations, once again describing the PQ calls to extend the language laws as “radical.”

PQ language critic, Pierre Curzi was less impressed, accusing the Conseil of not being rigorous enough in their report.

While Curzi said it was understandable why francophones and allophones in the Montreal area would choose to attend English-language CEGEPs, he said, in French, that there need to be clearer “signs the French language is the official language, it’s the communal language, it’s that language that we live in, period. Work, study, everything.”

The Conseil is also recommending that French-language CEGEPs make themselves more attractive to anglophone and allophone students and that English-language CEGEPs should improve French language instruction.

The full report is available here, it is in French.