Preservation of Minority Languages in North America: French Immersion Programs in the Province of Alberta


Canada, which was officially declared a bilingual nation after the proclamation of the Official Language Act (1969), counts with a low percentage of French speaking population who hardly reaches a quarter of the total population. We must add the fact that there is a very little fraction of the population who speaks French outside the province of Quebec. Social, cultural and ethnic realities which are present within the Canadian territories enable us to observe and investigate the diversity of identities and the different linguistic assimilation processes experienced by non Anglophone citizens. Facts seem to indicate that the francophone minority groups, living in areas of the country where the most spoken language is different from their mother tongue, struggle for the preservation of their cultural heritage at the same time that keep alive their Canadian identity. The possibility of contrasting the situation of the Francophones in Western Canada with the reality of other minority groups which represent a similar percentage with respect to the total population—such as the Germans and the Ukrainian origin citizens—constitutes a valuable resource in order to predict the evolution of the demographic patterns and the use of French as a heritage language within the Canadian territories. The present work reviews the diverse political, linguistic and demographic contexts that may support our idea that using an additional language—French and English in the case of most Francophones in Western Canada—represents an advantage from a cognitive, social and linguistic point of view. The high degree of acceptance of the francophone schools and the popularity of the French immersion programs set up by Albertan authorities are considered within this article in order to support this hypothesis.

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Ruiz, B. (2015) Preservation of Minority Languages in North America: French Immersion Programs in the Province of Alberta. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 3, 95-104. doi: 10.4236/jss.2015.34012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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