Immigration to Quebec is steadily growing and diversifying – which has rendered the linguistic integration of newcomers highly pertinent. The vast majority of immigrants live in Montreal; however, as a result of governmental efforts, recent years have seen an increase in the number of newcomers settling outside the city (Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2014). There are significant geographical differences in how the local population feels about these newcomers – with very positive attitudes towards immigrants being held in Montreal and quite positive attitudes prevailing in most of the rest of the province, compared to rather negative attitudes in the suburbs of Montreal (Turgeon and Bilodeau 2014). This paper investigates whether how welcome immigrants are by the local population is linked with the degree to which these immigrants identify with their host society – and whether this identification with their host society, in turn, affects the immigrants’ language attitudes. A questionnaire was used to elicit data from 644 participants in Montreal, in the suburbs, and in the rest of Quebec. Firstly, the questionnaire found out about the immigrants’ social identities – that is, how strongly they identify as inhabitants of their town/city, as Quebecers, and as Canadians; and secondly, the questionnaire elicited their attitudes towards French compared to English. The findings reveal that the more welcome immigrants are by the local population, the more they identify locally. Moreover, the findings indicate that these locally-based social identities are linked with positive attitudes towards French (and, by extension, increased likelihood of using the language). The paper discusses the implications of these findings for language planning measures that aim to promote the linguistic integration of immigrants into Quebec’s Francophone communities. So far, the main focus here has been on their acquisition of competence in French. This paper argues that measures which engender stronger locally-based social identities – and thereby lead to more positive attitudes towards French and increased usage of the language – could be an equally, if not more effective way of promoting the linguistic integration of immigrants. This would be particularly pertinent in those parts of Quebec where newcomers currently do not have a strong sense of belonging.
22 mei 2019
International Conference on Minority Languages XVII: ICML XVII