The word “allophone” comes from the Greek root of allos (other) and phone (sound/voice). The native tongue of people called allophones in Quebec is neither French (Francophone), nor English (Anglophone). Arabic, Creole, Chinese, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish are the most common allophone mother tongues in the province.
Generally, allophones gravitate towards French as a second language and English as a third, mostly attributed to the large French influence in the province. Allophones in Quebec represent more than 20 per cent of the population, a number that is rapidly increasing due to the rise in immigration to Canada.
Allophones in Quebec Schools
Allophones in Quebec schools now make up about 62 per cent of the student population and about 10 per cent of the teachers. Because of this rate, the government has taken steps to help ensure a fast integration of the young allophones in Quebec.
The classe d’accueil (welcome class), offered in many schools in Quebec, is a separate class that aims at helping the children of immigrants learn French, and become familiarized with the province’s curriculum, before they are able to join French speaking students in their regular classes.
This class encourages the diversity of the allophones in Quebec, and although the province prides itself on the preservation of its French culture and language, it is also dedicated to welcoming and celebrating the diverse immigrant population.
WHile the welcome class may seem a bit over the top, there are many positives about it. First and foremost, it simplifies their interaction with other children, providing an easier transition. It also fosters fairer competition in the job market later on (as Canada’s official languages are both French and English), as well as the job market abroad. Perhaps most importantly, it helps children to appreciate and understand the French culture of their new city.
Want to learn more about the unique culture in Quebec? Sign up for Settle-in.com and visit “The Guide.” Read the “Cultural Adjustment” and “Learn more about Quebec” chapters for more information on this subject.
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