There are many great advantages to moving into Quebec however, Bill 101 is not one of them. This bill limits your options for the education of your child, especially if you are new to Canada. The legislation was created and implemented in 1977. Its objective was to protect the French language and free the province from the dominant language, English. The law has been amended over the last 40 years but one the most controversial points remains intact today; only students who have at least one parent who attended an English language school in Quebec or Canada may be allowed to attend English school. This leaves many people with few options when looking to educate their children in the English language.
If you are new to Canada and Quebec, and intend on sending your child to public school, your child will have to attend a French public school. The younger the student, the easier the transition will be. In order to ease this transition, the French public school system created Welcome Classes. These classes are a necessity, especially if the student has no French language skills at all. Although the idea of these classes seem great, the implementation and overall results have been underwhelming. For many families it has been a frustrating experience. In a typical class d’accueil (welcome class), one finds a wide range of age groups, spoken languages, and academic abilities. The teachers, for the most part, have not been adequately trained to teach French as a second language, especially to students who have no experience with this language. It’s neither an effective strategy for learning French or other core subjects.
Alternatively, families have the option to enrol their children in a private French school, however there are roadblocks here as well. Unless the child can speak French, they will not receive an offer of admission.
SchoolAdvice Case Histories
“A family with three children arrived in Montreal from San Diego, California and engaged SchoolAdvice to assist with locating and enrolling the children in public French schools. The family had applied for and received Permanent Residence status to enter Canada after waiting more than 18 months for approval. None of the children were eligible for English education. The children were bilingual (English/Spanish) and the parents wanted them to to attend French public school.”
SchoolAdvice set up the appointment with the Commision Scholaire de Montréal where the children were evaluated and interviewed. They were placed in a Centre D’Accuiel (Welcome Classes) school in St. Henri. The class was an interesting mix of recent immigrants to Quebec from a variety of nations and cultures. The teacher was not well equipped to help the children learn french. SchoolAdvice arranged for FSL teachers to work with the children outside of class. In general the parents and children were frustrated by the experience and in the end felt it was a “lost year” in terms of academic progress for the children. The parents are planning to enrol the children in an ‘off grid’ private english school and will continue providing FSL instruction outside of school.
“A family with two children (Grade 4 and Grade 6) arrived in Montreal from Bulgaria where the children had been enrolled in an International French School. Both children were fluent in French and Turkish. SchoolAdvice helped them settle in a comfortable neighborhood (Outremont) near french public schools that suited the family well. Appointments were made with the Commission Scholaire where the children were interviewed and evaluated. Although the children were fluent in French and presented positive recent assessments from their schools, it was recommended that they follow a summer program to upgrade their math skills. It was interesting to note that neither parent could speak or understand French and the Commision Scholaire officials did not speak or understand English so the children acted as translators being Commission Scholaire staff and their parents. Translating between French and Turkish.
We will update this file once the children start school in late August. SchoolAdvice will be in close contact with the family to see how the children are coping in their new environment and whether or not additional support services are required.
Another option, if the family can afford the tuition, is to apply for admission to an independent, “off grid” school. Private schools that receive funding from the government must follow the rules outlined in Bill 101. Specifically they may only enrol students who qualify for English Eligibility. Off grid schools have chosen not to accept the funding (approximately $5,000 per student) freeing them from the regulation.
Choosing a fully independent school is an excellent option for those families who do not qualify for English Eligibility Certificates. It is important to note fully independent schools rely solely on tuition and receive no government funding, this makes tuition prices somewhat higher than in other private schools.
“There is a trend in Quebec towards an increasing number of ‘OFF Grid” Independent Schools.”
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