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Insane Idea from School Board Chair

Fortunately, this is not my school board, but is one of our neighbours. The Chair of the Toronto Catholic District School Board is proposing to start a Multilingual School. His idea is that during every school day, children would receive instruction in English, French, Spanish, German and Mandarin. Oh, and he wants to start with children as young as 4.

His rationale is that young children learn languages easier, so therefore we might as well expose them to as many economically important languages as possible, as early as possible. This clearly shows he has a background in economics, not education.

First off, it is an absolute myth that young children learn languages more easily. The only area in language acquisition where young children outperform adults is in Pronounciation.


Secondly, the model of kindergarten favoured by the Ministry of Education is a play-based learning one, with very short periods of large group teacher directed time, followed by students working at various centres, while the teacher works with individuals and small groups. With 300 minutes of instructional minutes in a day, and 5 languages to cover, that means each language gets an hour a day. The school board chair thinks that each subject could be taught in a different language, so each teacher would have 1 hour a day with that class, to cover the language and the subject area. Good luck trying to deliver all that to class of about 30 kids in small group settings. Oh, and you can’t really integrate subjects, and cover your math and science together for example, because those subjects are being taught in different languages.

Also, the idea that you are going to be rotating teachers on and out of a Kindergarten room all day is ridiculous. Kindergarten kids really need to bond with their teachers. They’ll have trouble remembering all their teachers names, much less bond with them.

Then there will be the logistics of trying to find certified teachers in the right languages who also are certified to teach kindergarten.

It’s ludicrous.


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