Quebec study answers, 'Why is English so popular?'
A study commissioned by Quebec's teachers union released on Thursday found that students in Canada's French-speaking province are increasingly choosing to study in English in hopes of landing better jobs.
The results come as Quebec lawmakers debate whether to extend a 30-year-old law aimed at bolstering the French language in primary and secondary schools to junior colleges.
"It is indubitable that access to the English job market (both locally and abroad) is a major factor in students' choice of pursuing studies in English," the study concluded.
Francophone students enrolled in English-language junior colleges in Montreal told the researchers they "considered English to be key to their upward mobility, and fluency in English was perceived as being key to landing a good job," it said.
Post-secondary school admissions in English over the past three years have grown three times faster than in French, even though the proportion of Anglophones in the province has been steadily declining since the 1990s.
More than 3,200 students were surveyed for the study commissioned by the Quebec House of Labour, the province's third largest union.
Nearly one in five students attending English-language junior colleges or universities in Montreal were from French-speaking backgrounds and until then had attended French-language primary and secondary schools.
The reasons they cited for studying in English included: "English gives you more choices while French limits you locally," "English is important because knowing how to speak English well will get you far in many companies," and "English is a language spoken in the entire world."
The view of linking English to job prospects was held regardless of whether respondents planned to work in Quebec or elsewhere. In fact, the report noted that English-language jobs in Quebec on average pay more than jobs in French.
© 2011 AFP