April 2023

French As A Second Language In Canada

Canada is a country with a rich history that is reflected in its official languages, English and French. Most people know that Canada is a bi-lingual country but are not sure of the reason why. This article will explain Canada’s roots in French culture and how the French-speaking population grew to around 25% of the country.

Why does Canada have two languages?

In the 17th century, French settlers came to North America and began to colonize the area for the next 150 years. This resulted in many large French-speaking settlements as well as a solid foundation from which the French community began to grow and thrive.
The early settlers of Canada were mainly explorers and fur traders who established towns along the country’s main sea routes to support the lucrative fur trade industry. These pioneers built thriving communities and prospered as they settled into their new lives in Canada.
Despite the British gaining control over Canada and the French colonies in 1973, the French Canadians fought for the recognition of their languages and culture. It was not until 1969, with the passing of the Official Languages Act, that the Canadian government finally recognized both English and French as official languages of Canada.

French in Canada - Present Day

Today, French is spoken by more than seven million Canadians, making it the second most spoken language in the country. Most of the French-Canadian population resides in the eastern provinces, most prominently in Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick.
Throughout Canada, the bilingual aspects of the country are represented in a multitude of ways. While English is the primary language spoken in most parts of the country, French is always an accessible alternative option. Bilingual text can be found in government buildings, documents, signage, food labels, and schools. There are also numerous other ways in which the French language is supported throughout the nation.

Bilingual Benefits

Having the ability to speak both French and English can provide numerous opportunities for Canadian residents. Being bilingual enables them to travel within the country or to other French-speaking nations without the concern of language barriers. It also broadens their job prospects, as many employers value multilingualism.
French language programs are offered throughout schools in Canada and consist of core French, French Immersion, Extended French, and Intensive French. Each province has different regulations regarding the teaching of French. In the eastern provinces where French is more commonly spoken, it is mandatory for students to learn French. However, in provinces like Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan, it is an optional school subject.

Learning More About French in Canada

Canada's bilingualism is a unique aspect of its history, culture, and identity. French being an official language plays homage to some of the earliest settlers of the nation, cultural diversity, and also the amazing French cultures and traditions that the French brought to Canada centuries ago. The nation’s people are proud of their heritage and Canadians embrace each other warmly regardless of their first language.
You can find many resources on the Government of Canada’s website outlining the laws and guidelines that are in place to accommodate all Canadians.

Why French is Important as a Second Language in Canada

You can normally hear numerous people in Canada speak French, while the first official language is English. Unsurprisingly, French as a second language in Canada is noticeably important and makes great differences in your everyday life. 
Millions of people in the country speak French as their official language. It’s needless to say that being able to communicate in French can provide you with lots of benefits. In this post, we’re going to find out why French is important as a second language in Canada. 

Quick Facts about French in Canada

  • French is the first official language of 22.8% of people in Canada.
  • Most Francophones (85.4%) live in Quebec.
  • Almost 10.4 million Canadians can build a conversation in French.
  • Roughly 3,000 primary and secondary schools, 75 colleges, and 30 universities offer their courses in French in Canada. 
  • Almost 1.7 million young people study French as a second language in Canada.
  • Source: Government of Canada
1. Communication and Cultural Awareness
Those who are skillful in the French language can communicate with a myriad people in Canada. There are different cultures in the country and millions of people speak French. In more exact terms, 7.8 million people in Canada speak French as their first language. These people mostly live in Quebec where French is the first official language. 
French speakers can adapt more easily to different cultures in the country. They can communicate with Francophones and learn a lot about their traditions, art, music, literature, and more.
2. Job Opportunities and Higher Salaries
If you can speak both English and French, you have a higher chance to find jobs with better salaries in Canada. Numerous jobs need bilingualism, and those fluent in both languages are in high demand. 
Bilingual employees often receive a bonus and have higher salaries. The best part is that it's not only private companies that need bilingual employees; many federal and provincial government jobs value bilingualism and offer higher salaries to qualified candidates. 
3. Doing Business in Quebec
Quebec plays a pivotal role in Canada’s economy, and the majority of residents speak French there. There are countless big investment projects in Quebec and their companies make millions of dollars every year. What’s more, the cost of living is lower in Quebec compared with many other provinces. 
Quebec has over 8 million residents, hence being an attractive market for different businesses. Being able to communicate in French helps businesses build relationships with Quebecois clients and achieve greater success in the Quebec market.
4. More Points in Immigration Programs
Bilingual immigrants who speak both English and French can get more points in Canada's Express Entry immigration system. That's because French language skills are valuable in Canada, especially in provinces like Quebec and New Brunswick. 
French language skill is considered a game-changing factor in Canada's Express Entry system for immigrants. The system specifies an applicant's eligibility for permanent residency. If you're fluent in French and tend to immigrate to Canada, you can get many points in the system for immigration. 
5. High-Quality Education
If you know French in Canada, you can enjoy high-quality education as it helps you access top-ranking universities in both English and French-speaking regions. 
Some universities in Quebec are among the highest-ranking universities in Canada and offer courses in French, including Université de Montréal and Université Laval
Final Words
Now that you understand how necessary it is to know French in Canada, the best strategy is to start learning it if you haven't yet. Whether you're planning to immigrate to Canada or you're a native Canadian citizen, learning French as the second official language of the country can provide you with countless benefits.