French Implementation in CEGEP: Is Grade 12 a better option?
Photo taken from Tav College website
On Thursday, March 24, Bernard Tremblay, President of the Fédération des CÉGEPS, announced that the Quebec government was planning to force thousands of students in English CEGEPs to take three of their core courses in French to receive their DEC. The CEGEP federation includes five anglophone colleges.
The amendment is scheduled to be included in the government’s legislation overhauling the Charter of the French language, Bill 96. Labeled as an act “representing French as the official and common language of Quebec”, Bill 96 has caused upheavals amongst Montrealers.
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Tremblay shared his views on the government’s involvement: “It's not possible for students who have not picked up enough French in 11 years of schooling to pick it up overnight!” he exclaimed.
Tremblay further explained that the CEGEP federation has performed an examination on the level of French proficiency among first year students attending English CEGEPS. The results indicated that more than 35% of 29,000 students enrolled are not sufficiently fluent in French to pass the courses.
This new requirement will undoubtedly affect students’ R scores, a score used by Quebec university admissions offices to compare and rank CEGEP students. A lower R score, even by the tiniest percentage, could result in a student being accepted or rejected from a Quebec university.
Vaughn Vanslet, second year social science student at Dawson, shared his frustration with the new law: “At this point, I don’t think there is a reason to stay in Quebec and continue my education here. I would have so many opportunities if I left given the program I am in. Also, I would say I am a good French speaker, but I would feel overwhelmed taking three classes in a language I am not exactly fluent in. I feel like I should have a say in the language I choose to learn in.”
Echoing Vanslet’s sentiments, second year social science student Jillian Goldenberg stated: “I think that this puts English speakers at a huge disadvantage in terms of getting into university. To be admitted in competitive programs at English universities, a high R score is required. If a student does not receive a high R score because they are taking three forced French classes, that is not fair, and it lowers their chances of getting into a university. By implementing this new law in English schools, it will lower anglophone students’ R scores and therefore make them less competitive candidates for Quebec universities, making their only option to move out of province for their University diploma. I personally believe that this is just another tactic to get rid of anglophones without saying ‘let’s get rid of anglophones’.”
Dawson CEGEP professor Sara Beer acknowledged that while in principle, there is ideological value and importance to this new change, she does not believe that the language bill should apply to CEGEP. She maintains that since CEGEP is post-secondary, students should have the right to learn in the language of their choice. She stated: “If we were to move forward with the imposition, I think what would happen is that there would be loopholes. For example, our French implementation could be a 5-minute oral presentation and that would be it for the course. Some of us just wouldn’t be qualified to grade at a college level unless it was a real French teacher.”
The loopholes are already here with additional pre-university options popping up.
Lower Canada College (LCC) offers a Grade 12 Pre-University option. Mandatory core courses in French are not required. With an enriched curriculum and personalized academic counseling, LCC receives an influx of applicants each year despite an estimated cost of $25,000 per year.
Additionally, TAV College has launched a new Grade 12 school opportunity called “Grade 12 study option”. At a cost of approximately $1400, this one-year program allows students to obtain an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). This diploma follows the admission requirements for universities in Quebec, Canada, the USA, and abroad.
According to Eli Meroz, TAV’s Director of Studies, TAV’s Grade 12 program will be taught in English, and it will allow all students to achieve their academic goals one year earlier. This option will also bypass the implementation of Bill 96 in other CEGEPS.
The three profiles available in this Grade 12 study option are: Sciences, General Social Science, or Commerce. TAV will be accepting applications for admission to this program for the Fall semester until August 15th, 2022.