Learning French Or English In Canada (6/10)

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Welcome To Canada! Welcome to my new “How To… Canada” series! In this series, I’ll try to put my knowledge to good use and shed some light on my new country: Canada. You will learn how some immigration tips and tricks, how to improve your proficiency in both official languages, how to find a job, how to settle in Canada etc. I’ll publish a new “How To… Canada” post every Saturday.

As most of you know, Canada has two official languages: French and English.

Now, most of the immigrants who are chosen under the skilled worker program will have to show language proficiency in either language. But it’s not always that easy. Some won’t speak either language and will need to learn from scratch (i.e family members accompanying the main applicant). Some newcomers will need to improve their language skills in order to get a job in their field.

Now, the good news is Canada is a multicultural country and no one will make you feel bad about your English or your French. Indeed, I found that Canadians were really nice towards foreigners. A lot of resources were implemented to help people improve their language proficiency and best of all, most of them are free!

If you have just arrived, you will probably still rely a lot on your mother tongue. You can take some time to adjust and get used to your new country using the following methods:

  • Check out your local library. Most of them have books in foreign languages (the most popular seem to be in Chinese, Arabic and Spanish).
  • Pick up a community newspaper. There are literally hundreds of ethnocultural newspapers published in Canada, a lot of them free and printed in many languages. Here is a list of national community and ethnic newspapers. You can also check out the Canadian Immigrant Magazine.
  • Watch the news: OMNITV has a diversity programming with news, movies and documentaries in almost every language.
  • Listen to the radio: CHIN Radio broadcasts in over 30 languages, CKWR in 22 languages and CMR in 24 languages.

Learn English or French: If you’re a newcomer to Canada, you may be eligible to free language classes.

  • Canada has a program called LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) that provides free basic French and English language courses to adult permanent residents. To register, you must contact the nearest LINC assessment centre or immigrant services organization for an assessment of your language training needs and a referral to LINC course providers nearby. The toll-free phone number is: 1 888 242-2100 (general inquiries). Here are the address of the LINC centers is most major cities: LINC Centers.
  • Make sure to check your local community center. Each city usually has one and they provide invaluable resources for newcomers. Here is a list of the main immigrants serving organizations in Canada.

Once you master the basics of French or English, you may find it’s still not enough to get a job in your field, to attend university or simply to carry on with your career. This is usually the most frustrating stage (been there, done that…). But there are solutions!

  • You can take enhanced language training (ELT) classes. It is a program that provides advanced level English language training to adult newcomers. The goal of ELT is to provide job-specific, labour market-level language training to help newcomers find and keep jobs that match their skills and qualifications. TLT is usually available in come colleges (see the Ministry Of Training) or professions and trades organizations (see the list). You can also contact your local community information center.
  • If you work for the federal government, you may be eligible for second-language classes (English or French). Most civil servants have to be bilingual at a certain level (depending on your position’s classification) and will need to take two written exams and one oral exam to show their proficiency in their second language. These classes are free (I teach these classes by the way!).
  • Get involved in language and culture social clubs: this can be a great way to make friends and to practice English or French! Membership is usually free and it works on an exchange basis: you teach the basics of your mother tongue and someone will practice English or French with you.
  • Consider hiring a tutor is you’re not eligible for any free resources. Websites such as Kijiji and Craig List usually have tutoring ads. Check the person’s reference and agree on a learning plan to make sure the tutor is qualified. I tutored quite a lot and I’m happy to say my students were quite happy with the result!

To be able to speak French or English, or better, both, will do great for your career and your life in Canada. Resources are available… use them! Who knows, I might even end up being your teacher!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Hi there,

    I looked over your blog and it looks really good. Do you ever do link exchanges on your blog roll? If you do, I’d like to exchange links with you.

    Let me know if you’re interested.


  2. Canada doesn’t offer enough languages courses to immigrants. A lot of people still can’t master French or English after living here for over 2 decades. Also, I find if one is really adaped into the host society, some Canadians still discriminate against you. Maybe different provinces have different laws.

    bluefishs last great read…Shocking news

  3. The only reason I’d learn French is to get chicks. And I’m already married, so I really have no reason.

    diesels last great read…Would You Buy this Novel?

  4. the best way to learn a language, other than lessons from zhu, of course, is immerse yourself in the culture. read the menu, the road signs, the newspapers. try to order something in French or English instead of your native language. it’s fun.

    Seraphines last great read…Predatory Drones

  5. How nice to be given free language classes 😉 I remembered when we travelled to France with my children we bought this French langugage tapes and hey it was pretty cool to be able to speak French Zhu 🙂 Gosh…..I’m 44 now you think it is too late for me to pick up French??? (Just thinking heheh)

    You are going for the closing ceremony of the Olympic?????? Fantastic!!! What a well planned trip Zhu, I bet you could still speak Chinese pretty well and have a great time….remember to share your photos ya.

    Have fun and be safe too my friend 😀

  6. A great site for ESL students is AIDtoCHILDREN.com.

    AIDtoCHILDREN.com is a dual-purpose site for building an English
    vocabulary and raising money for under privileged children in the most
    impoverished places around the world.

    Check it out at

  7. And there goes one more informative post. I am sure people migrating to Canada will be thanking you 1000 times. I am sure because of you life would be better in Canada. Thank you so much for making us aware about it.

    You are a true multilingual person……I am sure you will need to pratice Chinese soon 🙂

  8. @Randy Nichols – Hey there and thanks for visiting. I’ll be in touch 😉

    @Froggywoogie – Anytime! 😆

    @bluefish – I think the gov’ programs are adequate, as far as I could see. Now it’s also up to the immigrants to learn the language… nobody could have forced me to learn English, I did it myself!

    @Scarlet – Almost! “Je t’aime mon amour”. Well, you know your basic French 😉

    @diesel – And madame wouldn’t enjoy a French Diesel?

    @durano lawayan – A+. Actually, A- cause I know you chose Spanish rather than French 😆

    @Seraphine – Exactly! Language should be fun, otherwise there is no incentive to learn. I hated English till I lived in Canada and I was glad I knew enough to communicate!

    @shionge – It’s never too late! And the best news is I found Asian students in general pick up French accent really fast compared to English or Spanish. I’M lucky to go to Beijing… and I will take a lot of pics, you know me 😉

    @Gord Hunt – Thanks for the link, I did check it out and it’s totally relevant to that post. Great project!

    @Annie – Yes I will… and I forgot a lot, I’m sure I’m gonna speak English or French sometimes just because I’m missing the word in Chinese.

  9. Pingback: How To Find A Job In Canada | Correr Es Mi Destino

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