French education: the challenge of exogamy

In BC, 75% of francophone families are exogamous.

Exogamy refers to the marriage of someone from a certain culture, to a spouse from outside that culture.  From the francophone perspective, an exogamous family has one parent with French as the mother tongue, while the other parent has a different mother tongue.

In the francophone education system, most students come from exogamous families. As homogeneous French families become increasingly rare in Canada, the survival of francophone education outside Quebec depends on the enrollment of children from exogamous families.

Many people wonder why they would send their child to francophone education when they could just send them to the English system.  The answer is that in Canada, children who are educated in French usually turn out to be better in English as well.  Most people accept without question that knowing a second language is advantageous, and that learning it from a young age – if possible – is the best way.

Surprisingly, a francophone parent will often speak English at home to their children.  At the same time, the exogamous parent (usually English-speaking) may be more serious about their children’s learning French – probably because it’s a great opportunity that the English parent never had themselves.

The challenge for the francophone schools is to devise a way to welcome the non-French parents of exogamous families, while still maintaining a French-speaking environment.  Such a solution will likely ensure the growth of French-English bilingualism outside Quebec.


Rodrigue Landry, “The challenges of exogamy”

“English Information,” Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie Britannique

Math: solving percents with cross-multiplication

As a math tutor, you encounter this topic often – especially with students in vocational training.

Many ways exist to tackle percents.  However, the advantage of the cross multiplication method is its usefulness in virtually any situation involving them. If you missed my blog entry introducing the cross multiplication method, find it here.

Example 1: What is 15% of 390?

The key with percents is to realize that, for instance, 15% means 15 over 100. That is,


We can now incorporate our cross mutliplication scheme:

15/100 = x/390

Of course, x represents the number we need to know.

Now we do the actual cross-multiplication:


Dividing out 100 from both sides, we get

15*390/100 = x

We discover that 15% of 390 is 58.5.

Some other uses of cross multiplication with percents will be covered in future posts. For now, go back to the sun:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

French: practical hints for typing accents

When you tutor French, a student might ask how to produce the accents on an English keyboard.  Here are a couple of options:

On a Microsoft product, every French accent has its own Alt+(4 digit code).  For instance, this ç was typed using Alt+0231.  You need to hold down the Alt key, then type 0231 using the numeric keypad to the right – not the numbers across the top. Here are some codes that, once memorized, can really speed up your French typing:

é:     Alt+0233

è:     Alt+0232

à:     Alt+0224

ç:     Alt+0231

î:     Alt+0238

ô:    Alt+0244

Another way to produce accents is to use the character map.  Look under All Programs→Accessories→System Tools and you should see it.  It’s a grid of different characters which you can copy and paste to your work – really a great tool.

If you’re in Word, of course, you can go Insert→Symbol to find everything you need.  Word has its own shortcut sequences; my wife uses them all the time.  However, the sequences above will work in Word as well.

If you like the copy and paste method, here’s a time saver:  Copy and paste all the accents you’ll need when you first start, like so:

à  ç  è  é  î  ô

Now, you don’t have to flip back and forth between a menu and your work; you can just copy and paste from the list.

I hope this helps:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Math: What is a “perfect number?”

While enjoying this surprisingly fine summer, the math tutor recalls a definition.

When I was a kid, I read in one of my math texts (it might have been grade six) that a “perfect number” is one whose factors (except itself, of course) sum to it.

Example:  6 is a perfect number.

Factors of 6:    1, 2, 3, 6

Sum of factors (excluding 6 itself):  1+2+3=6

Example:  28 is a perfect number.

Factors of 28:   1, 2, 4, 7, 14, 28

Sum of factors (excluding 28 itself):   1+2+4+7+14=28

I always thought it was an interesting definition.  Curiosities like this are great; they keep you thinking about math when you don’t have to do any:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Math: What is a Radian?

When you tutor math, you explain radians every semester to your grade 12 students.

Most people begin measuring angles in degrees.  However, you can also measure an angle in radians.  1 rad≈57.3°.

While degrees come from (I am told) Babylonia, or one of the ancient civilizations of that area, radians are a “natural” way to measure angles.  Behold:

In the above picture, CA is a radius. The arc from A to B is the same length as CA. Therefore, angle ACB is 1 radian. 1 radian is the angle that you traverse by following an arc the length of the radius. Said another way, it’s the angle subtended by an arc one radius long.

Recall that the circumference of the circle is 2πr, where r is the radius.  Since 2πr is the exact circumference, 2π radians is exactly 360°.

Radians can be referred to as rads, but are usually stated without any unit. That’s how you can tell which way the angle is measured:  if it’s in degrees, it will have a degree sign.  If it’s in rads, it won’t have any units.  Therefore, an angle of 54° means, of course, 54 degrees.  However, an angle of 32 means 32 rads.

Please keep enjoying this fine summer!

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Practical math: Some easy conversions from metric to imperial

As a math tutor, you realize that conversions from metric to imperial are part of the grade 10 curriculum.  Let’s talk about a few that don’t need a calculator.

Even though the (Canadian) high school student grows up in a metric environment, the trades use both systems.  Moreover, the tutor likely grew up in the 70s, so still thinks as much in imperial as metric.

With a calculator, of course, you can easily convert any measurement to any other. Nowadays, you can just key a measurement into your browser and it will return the conversion.  In summer, however, such questions seem to arrive more often in everyday life – possibly when you’re not at your computer.

So, both for those in summer school, as well as those who might find these tricks useful in every day life, here are some simple conversions you can do in your head. While not exact (I think the temp conversion is), they get you within 2% of the answer.

kg to pounds:  double it, then add 10% of the answer.

example:  77 kg to pounds

step 1:  double the mass in kg:  77 times 2 = 154.

step 2:  add 10% more.  15.4 + 154= 169.4

So, 77kg is 169.4lbs.

metres to yards:  just add 10%.

55m is 55 + 5.5 or 60.5 yards.

inches to cm:  multiply by 5, then divide by 2.

4 inches = 5(4)÷2 = 10cm.

Fahrenheit to Celsius:

This conversion comes up a lot, but there is no convenient way without a calculator. You subtract 32 from the Fahrenheit, then divide by 1.8.

Example:  Convert 80F to C

step 1:  80-32=48

step 2:  48÷1.8=27 (rounded to the nearest whole degree).

So, 80F is 27C.

Here’s an irony about summer measurements:  According to Wikipedia, the Canadian football field is 110 yards, whereas the American is 100.  However, the Canadian football field is 100 m (since going from metres to yards you just add 10%).  So the American and Canadian are both 100 long in their own units.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Math: More about logs

Understanding logs is critical to anyone who needs to pass math 12 precalculus.  Your tutor will give you a new point of view about them.

Imagine you have this equation:


The solution is


Now let’s evaluate the decimal using a calculator:


(We have rounded to four decimal places.)

To verify that 3.4850 really is the solution, we can substitute it back in for x:


Close enough:)  Usually, during calculations, four decimal places is sufficient. This is true not only for logarithms, but trig as well.

With the pressure of final exams behind us, we will continue to provide light reading throughout the summer.  We tutor all year:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English: Punctuation with Quotation Marks

As term-end essays soon come due, your English tutor mentions a couple of finer details….

When quotation marks enclose speech, you put the comma or period inside:

“Call them back,” he requested.

“I’ll never make that mistake again.”

You also put the other punctuation inside, if it is part of what’s said:

“I love your car!”

“When will I get to drive it?”

What about if you have quotes around a title or saying?  For periods and commas, you do the same:

When my daughter told me my car was “sick,” I didn’t realize she was complimenting it.

Reading Amy Tan’s “Rules of the Game,” I developed a new appreciation for the importance of rules.

Tonight she will finish James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues.”

Note, however, that other punctuation (that is not part of the saying or title) goes outside:

Tonight, will you finish “Sonny’s Blues”?

I just found out my car is “sick”!

Quotes are used around the titles above because they are short stories; if they were novels, they would be underlined or italicized.

We wish you the best of luck with all your term-end efforts:)

Source:  TRU Open Learning Writer’s Style Guide.  Open Learning Agency, 2003.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English: Using conjunctive adverbs

When you tutor English, conjunctive adverbs come up – especially around due dates for important English compositions.

Following a semicolon, a conjunctive adverb can be used.  It leads to an attractive construction that can elevate your essay.

Their best pitcher was benched; nonetheless, they won the game.

I prefer pasta to meat; however, I really enjoyed your tacos.

In the above sentences, “nonetheless” and “however” are conjunctive adverbs.  In each case, the conjunctive adverb is placed after the semicolon.  The idea that follows – which must be a complete thought on its own – is rather surprising, given the idea that precedes the semicolon.

Conjunctive adverbs don’t have to lead to surprise.  Consider the following:

Put the cake in a preheated 350 degree oven; next, start the icing.

In the above sentence, “next” is a conjunctive adverb.

A conjunctive adverb is a word that links two ideas (hence, conjunctive), while describing a connection between the actions of each.  Often, the connection is irony: with however or nonetheless, the second idea seems surprising relative to the first. Likewise, the connection can be sequential – as with “next” – or cause-and-effect, as with “thus”.

Conjunctive adverbs can, of course, be used to begin sentences as well as after a semicolon.  Your English tutor encourages using them here and there in order to spice up your writing:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

English: Using they or their with a singular pronoun?

She-or-he and her-or-his are clumsy constructions.  Can you escape them?  The English tutor has looked it up to be sure….

Most writers face the situation commonly:

Leaving the shelter of the train, everyone put on ______ hat.

“Everyone” is, of course, singular.  If you knew the people were all women, you would love to say

Leaving the shelter of the train, everyone put on her hat.

What if the group is mixed – as usually it would be?

Leaving the shelter of the train, everyone put on her or his hat.

In today’s times, using “her or his” is the proper way.  Grammarwise, it’s correct because her or his, being singular, agrees with everyone.  Politically it’s correct, being gender-inclusive.  However, it complicates the sentence.

A common solution to the dilemma:

Leaving the shelter of the train, everyone put on their hats.

Can you actually get away with using their – which is plural – to refer to everyone, which is singular?  The answer depends on your context:  formal writing won’t let you. However, informal writing permits it.

In a world that seems increasingly informal, formal writing still has some strongholds.  An English professor likely won’t let you get away with using their in the situation we are discussing.

Here are some possible fixes that make formal writing a little more graceful:

Leaving the shelter of the train, everyone put on her/his hat.

Everybody realizes she/he needs to retrain.

Everybody realizes s/he needs to retrain.

Ask your professor what s/he will accept.  Remember:  when in doubt, go formal:)

Source:  McGraw-Hill Handbook of English, Fourth Canadian Edition, 1986.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.