Critical reading: Article review
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Critical reading: Article review


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Critical reading: Article review


The article reports findings of a one-year long study involving ethnographic data-gathering procedures with a symbolic interactionist perspective done on Anglophone and Francophone teachers and staff of an early French immersion program in a bilingual school in Montreal, with the purpose to get a better understanding of the efficacy and outcomes of bilingual education programs, particularly when it comes to meeting their foundational social objectives, which is placed in contrast with other bilingual education studies that restrict their focus on linguistic or academic achievements of the learners. In the findings of the study, the interaction between English and French-speaking staff is mentioned to be rather conflictual and predictably aligned with the broader underlying tension between the two social groups, raising questions on the effectiveness of such bilingual programs in meeting their ultimate social goals of reducing tension and maximizing positive interaction between the two socially conflicting groups. As reported, in order to align best with their academic duties, the teachers and staff adopted strategies that safeguard surface harmony, such as minimum contact and informal interaction, thereby preventing any awkward cultural confrontation, and predominant use of English, diminishing the impact of reflection of identity, in cross-group communication. The dominance of English is obvious, as not only a majority of the academic teaching in both regular and immersion curricula is in English, but also the English staff tacitly displays negative attitude towards the inclusion of the immersion program and early French language teaching. The study also reports the special role and additional duties of the school principal in gaining loyalty of both the groups and in controlling staff tension. 


I chose to critically analyze and comment on the methodology used in the present study. The study began with an assumption that the sociocultural context of a highly controlled, restricted school environment can faithfully represent the social processes and characteristics that reflect and govern dynamic interactions in the fabrics of a bilingual society at large. In my view, this may or may not be entirely correct. Besides this, reporting findings from just one immersion school is not enough to arrive at a definitive conclusion. Perhaps, the data gathering from a non-immersion school would have acted as a control in the experiment, and from another immersion school with a different language pair would have reinforced the results. Next, the study began with a strong expectation bias of finding conflictual interaction between the individuals English and French-speaking cultures of the Quebec. This reduces credibility of the ethnographer in impartially observing any instances of positive interaction patterns. And, in fact, there are no personal friendships and positive contact scenarios reported at all between any individual of either group to any other individual of the supposedly conflicting group. The chances of zero noise in any experiment, social or scientific, in my opinion is rather unlikely. Lastly, the presence of an outsider or a non-participant observer intruding the classrooms and staffrooms, constantly investigating interaction patterns, could possibly give a different, possibly milder, version of the actual group interaction status.

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