ENGLISH OR FRENCH
Editor of L’Évangéline,
DEAR SIR,--‘Tis very edifying to read of the heroic actions of the forefathers of the Acadians – of their fidelity to their religion, of their tenacity to, and love for their mother-tongue, but ‘tis by no means a parallel cause to-day. Why is it that, no matter how much be said to the contrary, de facto, the Acadians, at least in this part of the Province, are ashamed of their own language, and, on every possible occasion, parade their ignorance of English? Why do we find so many of our young men to-day unable to read or write in either English or French? Why are they obliged to excuse themselves for their broken English, and blush with shame, when obliged to express themselves publicly in French? No doubt your estimable weekly has done a great deal toward the advancement of our people and their language, but you are not sufficiently aided in your noble work and laudable crusade.
It seems to me that something should be done for our children in their earlier years. Our schools are not calculated to make educated men and women of our boys and girls, simply because their method is radically erroneous. ‘Twould seem to me more reasonable if, instead of compelling those poor children at the age of six or seven years to take up an English book and try to master it, our school laws would oblige them to have at least an elementary knowledge of that language which forms a part of their nation. The present modus educandi in our Acadian schools cannot long exist, and, at the same time, preserve their individuality and nationality. Our people, then, must be either English or French. If they wish to give up the sacred traditions of their grandfathers, and undo all that has been done for them by those heroic subjects of song immortal, let them continue trying to educate their children in the English language before they have even the shadow of their own, thereby stunting their young intellects – stuffing them with affected anglicized airs, identifying them with those of other nationalities, so that they may form but one element both socially and politically. In order to maintain the integrity of the Acadians as a people, and place their schools, I would suggest that the order now followed in the former be reversed: that is to say, that the three fourths of the day not given to the English be devoted to French not only to reading, but also to grammar and dictation. This necessarily implies that the teacher be qualified to instruct the children in their own language, and making this a qualification sine qua non, our young men and women would be inspired with a greater love of study, and more easily induced to try for licenses to teach, being sure of being engaged at home.
Yours very sincerely,