Over the weekend I finally finished reading Nouveaux Copains : Foreign Language French Level 1. This textbook was published in the early 1990s and reflects the multicultural approach to education that became politically correct in the 1990s. I think multicultural education curriculum is actually a good thing for foreign language students because you learn another language to explore other cultures. Unlike many other French textbooks, Nouveaux Copains included photo essays on many pays dans le monde francophone. The photo essay on Quebec was a revelation. There is a country in North America where people speak French!
It is strange that Quebec has not been on my cultural radar before now. Unfortunately, most French textbooks teach Parisian French (le français international) and completely ignore the existence of La Nouvelle-France, Le Québec. According to Wikipedia, As a rule, the French taught in American classrooms is that of France, as opposed to Canadian French, despite the geographic proximity of Canada to the United States. A similar phenomenon exists in Spanish-language classrooms in the United States, which tend to teach the variety used in Spain, and not that of Mexico, despite the fact that Mexican Spanish is far more prevalent in North America. Well, that is pretty stupid! I’ll have to search for a multicultural German textbook to avoid this kind of snobbery.
Quebec is not that far from Williamsport Pennsylvania. The only thing between us and Quebec is New York State. But apparently that is enough of a buffer to limit our exposure to Quebec because I’ve never encountered any French Canadians. According to my textbook there are communities in New England that speak French due to their proximity with Quebec.
I’m inclined to explore the culture of Quebec for several reasons:
- It is geographically closer than France. I could drive to Quebec. Or take a short flight.
- Canada is a bilingual country. There seems to be a lot of silly hostility between francophones and anglophones. C’est drôle !
- Quebec has been influenced by the United States more than France.
- It is cheaper to buy books and French learning materials from Canada.
I’ve already ordered an interesting book by a Canadian writer, La Belle Bête (Mad Shadows) by Marie-Claire Blais. You can get this novel in French or English but I’ll try to read it in the original French.