What is Linguistic Insecurity?

Have you ever suddenly felt anxious, self-conscious or like you’ve lost all confidence when speaking your second language?  Or, in some settings, even your first language?

That horrible feeling in your gut is called linguistic insecurity. And it’s very real.

Linguistic insecurity arises when speakers believe that their language skills aren’t good enough due to a variety of factors. It can negatively impact their confidence and discourage them from even trying to use their second language in the future.

Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL) – Annual Report

Linguistic (in)security, we have to talk about it by François Boileau

Thankfully, linguistic (in)security has become a hot topic in recent years. Many organizations have been researching it and finding ways to overcome it… including ours! 

CPF Advocacy Brief 2020

CPF National published a research-based advocacy brief in spring 2020 entitled Building Linguistic Security – Be Brave, Speak French!

This advocacy tool includes a worksheet on the insecurity experienced by French as a second language (FSL) learners and its impact on students and teachers. It also includes recommendations on how to foster linguistic security.

CPF Members across the country are encouraged to use this document when reaching out to schools and key education and government stakeholders. It will help bring awareness to the importance of offering welcoming, safe and inclusive spaces and encouraging language learning through authentic communications with native French speakers.

FJCF National Strategy Project

Did you know that many Francophones don’t feel comfortable speaking their own language in public?  It’s not just second language learners who face linguistic insecurity!  People of all ages and from all parts of the country are affected.

This is why the Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française (FJCF) has been involved in the linguistic (in)security file for many years. The FJCF even held a forum in May 2020 and proposed a National Strategy to address the issue. You can check out more HERE.

OCOL Reports

The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL) has also been drawing attention to this important topic in recent years.

In fact, it has just released an interesting study on linguistic (in)security among federal government employees in Canada!

In 2019, OCOL also released a report entitled Accessing Opportunity: A study on challenges in FSL education teacher supply and demand in Canada. This document demonstrates how linguistic insecurity is a barrier not only to some students enrolling (or deciding not to enrol) in FSL teacher education programs, but also to teachers participating in language professional development.

The Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne has created a series of videos on the topic of linguistic security. Check out the videos below or, to see all the videos produced by the ACUFC, visit their YouTube page.

How Do You Judge Your Relationship with French?

What is French for You?

Why Do You Speak French?

Why is it Important to Speak French?

What Role with the French Language Play in Your Future?