5.1 Family literacy models oriented toward minorities
This chapter has particular significance in the context of this report. As we have seen, there are many studies that assess the impact of family literacy programs. The Coalition francophone's research is different in that it focuses on the impact of family literacy in a Francophone minority setting in Ontario.
The challenges facing Francophones in Ontario are enormous. In most regions in Ontario, everything goes on in English, whether in the workplace or out in the community. Although it is possible to live in French in the family and at school, it is questionable whether this is enough to create a sense of belonging and of pride in one's language and one's culture.
The more Francophones are in the minority, the more they will be bilingual and the more likely it is that the people they communicate with will be unilingual; as a result, a smaller place is reserved for French and it is normally limited to exchanges with other francophones (who are few in numbers). The place taken up by English expands as a result. In the context of this ever increasing marginalization and pervasive bilingualization of the Francophone minority group, it is not surprising to see these speakers display diglossic linguistic behaviour, whereby they reserve a different context and a different status for French and for English (Bernard 1998,p. 143). [Free translation]
The vitality of a cultural community is manifested by the use of its language. For the language to become enriched, the members of a community must be able to express their ideas and their dreams and play and learn in their language. They have to be able to use their language in a variety of activities. However, this is a difficult challenge to overcome in communities where Francophones are very much in the minority. "when the link is broken between the mother tongue and social reality, when the second language becomes the referential realm for the mother tongue, the linguistic vitality of the community is compromised. The mother tongue becomes corrupted" (ibid., p. 164). [Free translation]
Organizations that offer a family literacy program in French create a space where the French language and culture are validated. As we saw in Chapter 3, many programs are designed with this in mind, and the parents drew real benefits from them.