Do Core Language teachers in our Nova Scotia School Boards need to be FLUENT??? sign now

Do Core Language teachers in our CB School Boards need to be FLUENT???

In our schools, we are very happy to be able to choose our second language, as a core language option. Our letter is about Gaelic, but we think it can be representative of all second languages offered in our schools. From Grade 4 – 9, we can choose to take either Gaelic or French.  Our schools are : Sgoil Mhic Fhraing a’Chaolais (Rankin School of the Narrows – Iona), Bayview Education Centre – Port Hood, Dalbrae Academy – Mabou, St. Andrew’s Consolidated – St. Andrew’s, and St. Andrew’s Junior School – Antigonish. Our question is :  “How can kids in a core  Gaelic program learn the great Gaelic of their community, if the School Board and  administrators don’t hire someone who is FLUENT in Gaelic?” 

Our interest in Gaelic has brought us together and many of us are now very good friends.  Over the past few years we have all shared the same experience of having to justify and explain to people in our schools why we have chosen to take Core Gaelic. Some of us have even been told that “Gaelic is a dead language and that we are wasting our time.”  What people don’t seem to understand is, to us Gaelic is not just a course we have chosen to take, it is Our Language and WE LOVE IT!! It is the native language of some of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents and it is going to continue to be our language and the language of our children. That is why we get so upset when we see that Gaelic always seems to get the short end of the stick in our schools. For example, Bayview, Dalbrae, Antigonish and the St. Andrew’s schools have fluent Gaelic teachers but when those teachers are unavailable we have had subs in to teach Gaelic class who cannot read, write, or speak any Gaelic whatsoever. At Rankin School of the Narrows currently, there is no Gaelic teacher hired in the full-time position that is available there, even though there are qualified, suitable, Gaelic speakers who could fill that position.  Instead, they have substitutes filling in, who are not FLUENT in Gaelic. This is not fair to the kids in this program or to the substitutes who are put in the position of trying to maintain a level of quality in a subject they are not qualified to teach. We know for a fact that many of the Gaelic students across the province have much more Gaelic than the substitutes who have been brought in.  This is really a waste of good quality learning time for us.  We just want to learn Gaelic!

How can it not matter if the language teacher is not able to read, write or speak the language they have been hired to teach?  Would our school boards hire an English teacher who was not fluent in English?  Should it be acceptable for our school boards to hire someone in a core language position who cannot speak fluently in that particular language, eg. Gaelic, French or Mi’Kmaq?  That doesn’t make any sense to us!!!

Like we said earlier, WE LOVE GAELIC!  We love everything that is a part of Gaelic culture:  Stories, Songs, Nature, Music, Dance and a sweet language. When we look around our communities it is easy to understand why we have this in-born interest in the language of our ancestors.  We are of Scottish descent and Gaelic is the language of our parents, grand-parents and great-grand-parents.  There is no question that the majority of the population of people living in our communities of Iona, Washabuck, Christmas Island, Mabou, Port Hood, Judique and St. Andrew’s are descendants from Scotland and Gaelic speaking families. Gaelic language comes from a strong, beautiful culture and is as relevant as all of the diverse cultural languages in Nova Scotia; ie. Mi’Kmaq or French.

We have tried to explain how important it is to us in our lives and why we feel that any core language teacher who is hired in a permanent position in either the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board or the Strait Regional School Board should have to be a FLUENT speaker of that language. We, and all of the kids in the province of Nova Scotia, are afforded “The Right to a Second Language Option in our schools.”  That Core language program should obviously be taught by a Fluent  educator who is able to teach that language, not by someone who cannot read, write or speak fluently in that language.

Isn’t this common sense?

 We just want to learn Gaelic!                              

 

 

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