Fostering Appreciation and Cooperation Between English Speakers and French Speakers in Canada
Framework to Examine the Current State and Guide Action
On this page
- Linguistic duality framework
- Description of the twelve objectives to measure the process of building bridges
- Level 1: Exposure / knowledge
- Level 2: Appreciation
- Level 3: Cooperation
- Description of the three levels toward building bridges
- How can this tool be used?
Fostering Appreciation and Cooperation Between English Speakers and French Speakers in Canada [PDF version - 349 KB]
Linguistic duality framework
Description of the twelve objectives to measure the process of building bridges
Level 1: Exposure / knowledge
1. Production, access and consumption of cultural and other products
Support the creation and the access of English-language and French-language products, and encourage their consumption in their original version or through translation.
2. Recognition in Canadian society of the need to promote linguistic duality
Active presence within Canadian society of key stakeholders (governments, municipalities, business community, employers’ and union labour organizations, voluntary organizations, etc.) which promote linguistic duality across the country.
3. Awareness of perceptions
Guide individuals in identifying negative stereotypes typically associated with the other linguistic group, preconceived ideas, in developing their ability to distinguish perceptions (positive or negative) from facts.
4. More complex understanding of the other linguistic group
To understand the issues that the members of the other linguistic group are facing, the intra-group and inter-group differences, as well as the history of relations between the two groups and its impact on the relationship. These are facts.
Level 2: Appreciation
5. Recognition of the immediate and permanent benefits of bilingualism
Encourage bilingualism and promote its benefits for the individual and for society.
6. Linguistic security
Create opportunities to meet in places where both linguistic groups are free to come together and to express themselves while feeling safe and accepted by the other group. Refers to linguistic anxiety, the perception of our linguistic abilities in our mother tongue or second language (official languages) in different situations.
7. Enhanced communication skills in one’s second language
Skills related to the frequency and context of second language use (at home, at work, with friends or in leisure activities); our actual second language skills in different situations.
8. Identification and appreciation of commonalities and differences
A process of identity negotiation in which we clarify our identity in relation to the other linguistic group, by identifying what we have in common with this other group (which will encourage empathy) and what our differences are (which will help us understand the benefits of complementarity in collaboration).
Level 3: Cooperation
9. Awareness of one’s role as a cultural and linguistic passeur (building bridges)
Role of individuals or organizations promoting closer ties between the two linguistic groups that wish to act as mediator in building closer relationships.
10. Common purpose
Implement a project where members of both linguistic groups are required to be present and to participate. This objective is based on a common purpose, as well as the trust between both parties and the recognition of their interdependence in order to fulfil that purpose.
11. Inclusion in an intimate and lasting social network
Seek and appreciate daily, regular and intended future contacts with members of the other linguistic group in one or more contexts (at home, at work, with friends and in leisure activities). Prerequisite for this objective is, of course, access to opportunities for contact.
Ability to grasp with sensitivity (to feel and think like the other) and through in-depth knowledge (from the other group's perspective) what a person from the other linguistic group is experiencing.
Description of the three levels toward building bridges
Level 1: Exposure / knowledge
To ensure access to the other linguistic group (its culture, its story and/or its language)
- No interaction required. It is about being exposed to the other language or linguistic group (whether on a voluntary basis or not)
- In favour of bilingualism without being obliged to
- Cognitive level of the attitude change process
Before there is an appreciation towards the other linguistic group, or even opportunities for cooperation, one must have the opportunity to get to know this other group. Without this, the chances that there will be appreciation of the other linguistic group remain limited, even non-existent. Opportunities to be exposed and to learn may be presented through the following:
- Visibility in the public space: educational institutions, health services, shops, toponymy, commercial signage, emergency communications, etc.;
- Cultural industries (cinema, museums, books), performing arts (song, theatre), and traditional/digital telecommunications, social media and other interactive digital products;
- Education: knowledge of the history and literature associated with the other linguistic group, its demographics (how many there are, where they live), the language rights and policies from which it benefits.
These opportunities to gain knowledge increase when there is geographic proximity: living in a region where there are significant concentrations of English speakers and French speakers offers more opportunities to be exposed to the other official language and the other linguistic group, and even to participate in events where the two linguistic groups can meet with each other.
There is no requirement to be bilingual to get to know the other linguistic group better. The reading of great authors’ works translated into the reader’s mother tongue makes it possible, for example, to better understand the culture of the other linguistic group. However, we should not exclude knowledge that refers to the general culture associated with the language, and that may not be specifically Canadian (e.g., a French or American author).
Level 2: Appreciation
To foster appreciation of the other linguistic group
- Exchanges between groups lasting a few hours. Moving from contact to interaction
- Informal or guided contacts
- Affective and motivational levels of the attitude change process
The opportunity to get to know the other linguistic group, its culture, history and/or language, can contribute to a better appreciation of this other group, to changing people’s attitudes.
On the other hand, research shows that it is also important to work on the affective component (and not only on the cognitive component which is predominant in the level 1) in order to change attitudes even more meaningfully: for example, exchanges between linguistic groups, in other words, harmonious interpersonal contact, will prove particularly effective in terms of developing positive attitudes.
Level 3: Cooperation
To increase cooperation opportunities
- Strengthen the desire to engage with the other linguistic group for a common purpose
- Longer-term exchanges
- Deeper personal investment and engagement
To increase cooperation between the two linguistic groups, it is important that members of both groups:
- Feel that they have a common purpose that brings them together, that they need to cooperate to achieve it;
- Can fully participate in exchanges;
- Are prepared to recognize and balance the needs of both linguistic groups.
The existence of a common purpose
The first necessary condition for a successful cooperation between groups is that the members of both groups have a real reason to be together:
- Why are they gathered together?
- Why should they participate in what is being proposed to them?
- In situations of linguistic tension, why reach out to the other linguistic group?
It is important to ensure that members of both groups feel that they have a common purpose which brings them together, and that they are interdependent, meaning that they need members of the other linguistic group to fulfil this purpose.
In concrete terms, instead of establishing contacts where members of both groups would only have to meet with each other, such as going to the cinema or the theatre, situations will be created where they will need the knowledge or know-how of others, for example, their language skills, their knowledge of the city or of the music in one language or another.
It is very difficult to bring together people who feel they are seen as “inferior” by members of the other linguistic group. This feeling may lead them to censor themselves or claim their place, rather than collaborate with the other group towards achieving a common goal.
To clarify, perception counts sometimes more than reality. In practice, both linguistic groups may have equal opportunities to participate in exchanges, but if they do not feel that it is the case, meaning if they feel there is a difference, it is this perception that will become their reality.
Balancing the needs of both groups
The purposes of each community must be achieved through a scenario where everyone benefits and must take into account the specific context of each region.
Lastly, although balance between the needs of both linguistic groups does not require all citizens to be bilingual, harmonious relationships between them require a certain number of passeurs, meaning linguistic and cultural mediators, who are bilingual individuals able to maintain a dialogue on both sides of language boundaries.
How can this tool be used?
The Framework for Fostering Appreciation and Cooperation Between English Speakers and French Speakers in Canada is a reference tool that defines the concept of linguistic duality by articulating issues specific to the relationship between the country’s two broad official language communities. It is applicable at several levels (pan-Canadian, regional, local), concerns all Canadians, and is intended for both individuals and organizations (public, private and non-profit).
The Framework proposes objectives that contribute to the implementation of the federal government’s commitments to promote English and French outside its own structures, as stipulated in Part VII of the Official Languages Act. This tool can be used to measure the current situation and guide the implementation of policies or programs.
- Date modified: