PLEA Letter to Surrey Oct. 25, 2001

ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਲੈਂਗੂਏਜ ਐਜੂਕੇਸ਼ਨ ਐਸੋਸੀਏਸ਼ਨ

PUNJABI LANGUAGE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION

4325 Portland Street, Burnaby, B.C. V5J 2N5

October 25, 2001

Dr. Cynthia Lewis
Director of Instructions
School District # 36 (Surrey)
14225 – 56th Ave.
Surrey, B.C. V3X 3A3

Dear Dr. Lewis,

Thank you for your proposal and time. The Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) met and discussed the proposal and would like to submit as follows:

PLEA is not in agreement with your proposal for offering Punjabi in a Bilingual Program Model at the elementary level. We also do not recognize the relationship between Punjabi as a second language in public school system and Punjabi taught by various organizations in the community as a heritage language. In PLEA’s original submission, it was envisioned that Punjabi be taught as a second language as it is outlined in the Language Education Policy which falls within Model 1 of your proposal.

According to models of language acquisition, the students who would take Punjabi at the elementary level are second language learners. This is due to the fact that, though they may have some oral aptitude in Punjabi, they require many other facets of language training. These facets include reading and writing skills, as well as further assistance in oral syntax, grammar, and pronunciation.

We in PLEA, duly respect the place of French in our society. However, we would also like to suggest that Punjabi should not be and cannot be treated as a foreign language. Punjabi has contributed to the development of this province for more than a hundred years. It is used not only in large number of homes; it is also the language of countless places of business. It is the third largest language spoken in this province and the second largest in Surrey. Many government and private establishments have long recognized these facts and have used and are using Punjabi as a language of communication. A sizeable number of businesses in Surrey require the knowledge of Punjabi as an asset before they hire someone. These changes in the community cannot be simply ignored by a body responsible for the education of its citizens.

We feel that Punjabi should be offered as an alternative second language option to Core French. We request the Board to offer students and parents the CHOICE of Punjabi as a second language at the elementary level.

PLEA is composed of individuals with varying and extensive Punjabi backgrounds in education, from the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, as well as community activists and parents. Thus, we sympathize with the difficulties of starting a new program. However, we strongly believe that it is the responsibility and the obligation of the school board and the ministry to fund programs for the public.

PLEA can offer its support to help find suitable Punjabi teachers for the target schools from the pools of existing teachers, or help in the relocation of suitable teachers. PLEA can also offer its support in providing the teachers with existing resources, mentorship, and professional development. In addition, PLEA can assist with new resource development and assist in attaining parental support.

We thank you for your time and consideration,

Respectfully

Balwant Sanghera, President  – 275-8977

Sadhu Binning, Vice President – 437-9014

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