Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Bilingualism Is Rising in Canada but Not Necessarily in the Country's Two Official Languages

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Bilingualism Is Rising in Canada but Not Necessarily in the Country's Two Official Languages

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Bilingualism is rising in Canada but not necessarily in the country's two official languages

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Oct. 24:

Bilingualism in Canada increasingly means something other than speaking both French and English. Indeed, millions of people with dual languages use just one of the above plus something else. And that's a good thing.

This represents no threat to official bilingualism. English and French remain the linguistic bedrock of this country. But to thrive, a strong multicultural society needs a steady and vigorous influx of new immigrants. And the latest census figures on how we speak reflect just that.

New data released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday shows that 6.4 million people use an immigrant language at home. About 2.2 million of them speak only in the tongue of their native land while the rest are bilingual -- using English or French combined with their original language.

It could be Punjabi, or Mandarin, or Tagalog, or Urdu, or Portuguese, or any one of another 200 or so languages spoken in Canada. This bilingual group is growing, with 11.5 per cent of the population speaking English plus a language other than French at home in 2011. It was just over 9 per cent in 2006. The group speaking French and a tongue other than English is smaller, but also on the rise.

In contrast, the number of people who are bilingual in Canada's two official languages is relatively static. …

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