So You Think You Can…speak two languages?

I was watching one of my two favourite dancing shows, So You Think You Can Dance Canada, on TV last night (an encore presentation) when I learned that judge Jean Marc Genereux has been criticized for his command of the English language on the show. Can I just say one thing?

I’m disappointed in you, Canada.

Although I’m sure that this reaction to Jean Marc’s English is by far in the minority among viewers, I just had to speak up in his defense. Even though all of us that grow up in Canada are taught a second language for a number of years in school, how many of us can actually speak it to carry on an understandable conversation, let alone fluently? Yes, Jean Marc’s English has slight imperfections in it, but let’s face it, it’s pretty impressive that he speaks French AND English and his English is pretty darn good. He knows it so well that he can be funny in it, a great feat for someone to carry out in their second language.

When I began to travel to other parts of the world I realized one thing: we North Americans are on the whole pretty pitiful in terms of multiple language comprehension when you stack us up against the citizens of other countries. Since English has become globally so common we have not been forced to learn other languages and so we don’t. We ask others to learn English so that we can communicate with them. We’ve become lazy.

So here’s a man, Jean Marc Genereux, who knows our two official languages and he knows them well. But yes maybe sometimes he puts an ‘s’ on the end of a singular word or something like that, and he comes under fire. Is the criticism justified? No. It is rude and unacceptable? Yes. Come on Canada, we’re a nation of many cultures. We can do better than this.

I think Jean Marc is my favourite judge on So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Keep up the good work Jean Marc. I’ll continue to look in the future for your comments on dancing, and I know I will understand every bit of the insightful words you say.

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