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English Montreal School Board promoting French to start new year

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The month of January at the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is going to have a big emphasis on French.

The school board has launched an initiative to promote the language and Quebec culture.

"We want to show people that the English-speaking community can be fully bilingual if they register their kids in our public schools," said EMSB chair Joe Ortona.

On Tuesday, the school board held a press conference exclusively in Quebec's official language.

This school year, the EMSB hired nine teachers from France.

"If you heard my press conference, it was all in French and I'm a product of the English public system," said Ortona. "I think my French is pretty good."

Professional cellist Stephane Tétreault attended two EMSB schools where he learned English.

"I think bilingualism is precious; it's really important," he said. "It's been an important part of my life, having to travel for my career."

Allison Grad is a Grade 6 student at Dante Elementary, and she knows speaking French is important for her future.

"It's fun because you get to communicate more with other people," said Grad.

The EMSB wants to show the rest of Quebec that anglophones are not unilingual but that the decision to promote French was not political.

"This has nothing to do with the government or the CAQ, this is completely an EMSB initiative," said Ortona. 

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