OK so do you know why French and Spanish are offered in American schools? Obviously, it’s because there are ten Spanish speaking countries in North and South America (eleven if you include the US, which I do) and then French is widely spoken in Canada, The Caribbean (Les Antilles) and even plays an important part in American culture in places such as Louisiana and New England (Maine). However why is it that many American schools (if not all to a certain extent)
rightfully prefer to teach the Latin American dialect of Spanish while education of the French language is so eurocentric that North American accents, vocabulary, and general dialect markers are taught to be incorrect? Spanish teachers in American certainly teach the Latin American dialect to students (while giving proper acknowledgement to Castilian Spanish to assure that the students are aware of its European counterpart), like the usage of usted(es) vs vosotros so that Spanish-language students will be able to recognize and communicate in the ‘standard’ (another debate entirely) Spanish dialect relevant to their continent. However, the majority of French language teachers in America are unable to recognize common expressions and terminology used even in the Canadian dialect of North American French. As a native speaker of Québec French (known as québécois), I constantly lose points on assignments because of my pronunciation and vocabulary choices (I once lost 4 points off an essay for using the words joual, stationnement, and quétaine). I have to constantly hear teachers refer to aspects of North American French as “incorrect” (differences in pronunciation or phrases, such as ‘je suis en amour’ and ‘je suis amoureux(se)), or refer to the dialects as “peasant French” (the usage of frette, essaye, assois, etc). The majority of American French teachers are taught the history, language, culture, and current social events of European francophone countries (mostly France to be exact) while not being able to recognize even the simplest phrases unique to the dialects of the continent they live in .
This ignorance of our dialects promotes the idea that European French is superior to our dialects (setting the ‘standard’ for the French language up to favour European French) which leads to the idea that our dialects are somehow “impure” and “slangy” while simultaneously glossing over our cultures, histories, and important social events (how many French teachers here can give important contributions of the la révolution tranquille in relation to francophone rights and culture in Canada or how children in Louisiana were punished for speaking French in the school yard
je vous encourage tous à lire les poèmes Speak White et Schizophrénie linguistique si ces deux évènements marquants dans l’histoire francophone de l’Amérique du Nord vous intéressent.). I’m not asking for a complete reboot of the education of the French language in the US, but I am asking for more representation in high school and university classes so that students of this language are able to identify what is distinctively North America, have the choice to inform themselves about our language and culture, and just in general not think of our dialect as ‘wrong’ and ‘weird’—instead of teaching ideas that perpetuate eurocentric linguism.