Learning French Or English In Canada (6/10)


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. 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

  2. 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 😀

  3. 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

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