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Responding to the call: Practices and effects of including Anglophone families in a Francophone school in Canada Carla Di. Giorgio, Ph. D University of Prince Edward Island Canada
Introduction • History of French language in Canada • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms • The French school system • inclusion
Goals for Francophone schools • Welcome non-Francophone students from target populations • Develop school’s role as centre of French community • Better relations with the majority • Develop linguistic vibrancy in school • More early childhood services
Research questions • How did one school attempt to become open to target populations • How did this affect its relationship to the Francophone and Anglophone community?
Methodology • Ethnographic case study • The school • Data collection • Data analysis • Research issues
Data summary • Interview: 13 parents, 11 teachers, 8 students, 5 admin/special services personnel, 3 teacher assistants (total 40). • Observation: 60 days, 173 students, 20 staff. • Documents: newspapers, school board and school documents (total 66).
FINDINGS 1. Welcome non-Francophone students from target populations: Extending the school to include Anglophone families • Pamphlets, transportation, communication with parents, lessons, events, language policy
What do parents want? • French language • Small numbers • Attention to individual needs • Safety • Access to resources and services • To be accepted
French language • “Why? Because I’m totally French. Bilingual. Ah, I’m not Acadian. I’m French. Um. I wanted her because my wife don’t speak French, I wanted her to at least go to French school and that would be the first uh easier way of her learning French”.
Small class size • “and but the main reason was class size. Because the other schools in the area. . it was all talk about class sizes and not enough attention for students, and we just felt that he would get a better education there”.
Attention to individual needs • “But one of the things I found with the teachers here with regard to (child), and no doubt it’s the same with the other students, they almost intuitively can sense what the kids know and what they don’t know. They can tell by, they get to know them so well from facial reactions and body language and stuff…you know, they really know him? ”
Safety Mom: (speaking of English school) Uh, well, it’s just kind of violent. And there’s no supervision… Ron: This school is leaps and bounds ahead of the other one… Marie: She wouldn’t survive at (English school). She wouldn’t. Ron: She’s too innocent. She’d be taken advantage of. Marie: Beaten to death…I think it would be a lot more stressful at another school. I’d be terrified about lunchtime with her. I’d be terrified of school grounds. I’d be terrified about her getting a bus.
Access to resources and services • “Well, okay. Our daughter as you know she is delayed in a lot of aspects and we were looking at another school, but they couldn’t guarantee us a teacher’s assistant and they couldn’t guarantee us the resources. And we thought about it, and it’s like, this would be the perfect school. Because there’s more programs available, more funding, and (child) would be starting basically at the level with everyone else…We wanted her to have a good first year”.
To be accepted • “We go in there probably maybe twice a month anyway and bring them, just walk into their class…and they like that? They’re not like, ‘where are you going’ and you know, they recognize you? And it’s really like, I don’t know, friendly. Nice. Ya. .
Positive effects • larger school=more resources • Larger community • Learning French • Inclusive • Parents buy in and participate: “This is just for the parents to learn French. ‘Cause they really want it to encompass your whole life…It’s amazing. We love the school. We’re so happy. Well, I love this school. (Father): I sing its praises all the time.
Negative effects • Language barrier for some leads to less participation: • • • “That’s the only thing about that school. They don’t make you feel unwelcome but I can’t volunteer to do things, because I don’t speak French well enough? Like you know to go and dole out pizza or something, you know what I mean? That’s the only thing. So I don’t get to. ” Different levels of language and commitment in school Heterogeneous community Some parents do more than others-resentment
The struggle, the balance • French • Culture • Language • participation • English • Growth • Academic goals • Less participation
2. Better relations with majority: School identity in the public eye • Media e. g. no sharing with English board • Reputation • Bilingual Sports collaboration • Facility as community centre and rental • Acceptance of families no matter what challenges
3. Multicultural/lingual vibrancy • Bilingual only • Levels of ‘Frenchness’: Quebec, Acadian, Parisian: “Um, • • • I’m more Acadian. There’s some- they (children) correct me. They’re at the stage where I’ll be talking, and I have an Acadian word that comes out, or if I’m saying something, I’ll say one word that means the opposite of another one, and they will correct me, which is nice to know, that they are picking it up”. Formality of immersion from grade one; zero tolerance Teacher turnover and mixture of Frenchness Multiculturalism not as pronounced, although global transfer of clientele is evident
4. Early French education • marketing • Class division according to language • Effect: streams
5. Make school centre of ‘French’ community: challenges • Large geographic span: “yes it’s more difficult • because the people who attend live in the larger area, not just the city…so it’s not obvious that these people can form one family, and that’s something that’s missing…they are together in the morning, but in the afternoon they go home in different directions” Language gets in the way of participation
Practices and effects • Festivals, dances, movie nights, dinners • Appreciated more by the families who felt more accepted (had higher needs): “Ya…and I took the kids in and a couple of their friends actually, to that (school festival) and they were really impressed, like, they thought the school was great, and the little one said, ‘I want to go to French school too!”
Lower needs=more criticism, less buy in Family who chose the school for academic strength: Dad: There’s no real standouts there. Me: Speaking as a professional. Dad: No stars. It may be a while for the band program to get… Mom: Get off the ground. Dad: Ya. Me: Oh, you mean the recorder playing. Dad: Oh just pretty much everything. Ya pretty much at a base level.
Conclusion • Dual population, F 1 and F 2 • Principal tried many efforts to include families • Some were successful, others not so much • Disabilities led some families to buy in to the • school’s expectations What is community? Different families needed different things from the school, were more or less willing to get involved
Limitations and recommendations • Small school, one school • Snapshot in time, what of the present, the future? • Need more research into other languages, communities • The overlap between language and academic needs of families interestingshift in capital.