Report on cultural ownership by young people in Francophone minority schools identifies gaps

May 06, 2010

(CTF News Service – Ottawa)  A report prepared by the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) entitled L’appropriation culturelle des jeunes à l’école secondaire francophone en milieu minoritaire shows that much remains to be done to help young people build their culture during their years at school. The CTF report presents the findings of a series of interviews and a national survey of young people attending French-language minority schools across Canada. The issue of cultural ownership by these young people was central to the analysis of the survey data.

A total of 1,334 Grade 10 students across Canada answered the CTF online survey questions. Here are the main findings:

  • More than 80% of the students who responded considered French to be their first language. Of these, 65% reported French as their only first language and 15.3% reported a combination of English and French as their first language;
  • 62.5% of the young people felt that they tended to speak in French more with their grandparents, 52% with their mother, 50.4% with their father and 39.2% with their sisters and brothers;
  • They tended to listen to much more English music in their extracurricular activities than French music: 13.2% listened regularly to French music, whereas 44.5% listened to English music;
  • 45.63% of the respondents did not engage in other activities in French outside of school;
  • The young respondents felt that their teachers showed more awareness of and put a higher value on language and culture than their parents. For example, 61.2% of the respondents said that their teachers promoted French culture (i.e. music, traditions, contemporary creative works) compared to 24.9%, who said that their parents performed this role;
  • Although school was perceived positively by 47.44% of the young respondents as an important place for the acquisition or maintenance of the language, they never described the school as a Francophone cultural setting.

According to Benoit Mercier, Chair of CTF’s Advisory Committee on French as a First Language, “It is alarming to see that students are so little aware of the cultural mission of French-language schools. Many efforts have attempted to make this mission clear to them, but we undoubtedly need to review our strategies. That is why we took the liberty of making certain recommendations to that effect in this report.”

The recommendations in the report refer to various aspects of the school curriculum and address the issue of training teachers and those in charge of cultural activities. The report also suggests that more in-depth research should explore the linguistic behaviour of students, the support to extracurricular activities and the impact of the media environment.

According to CTF President Mary-Lou Donnelly, “The very mission of French-language schools depends on the effectiveness of the partnerships with parents and the Francophone community. The research has identified the specific gaps we need to address over the coming years. With the support of our partners, we would like to use this new information to continue to guide our support to teachers.”

Founded in 1920, CTF is a national alliance of provincial and territorial teacher organizations that represent nearly 200,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada. CTF is also a member of the international body of teachers, Education International.


CTF spokesperson: Mary-Lou Donnelly, CTF President

Information: Ronald Boudreau, CTF Director of Services to Francophones, 613-688-4308

Contact: Francine Filion, Director of Communications, 613-688-4314, or 613-899-4247 (cell)