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.