Language Learning Opportunities in...

Language Learning Opportunities in Ontario High Schools

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Learning a language takes time, energy, and the right opportunities. In Ontario, students have many chances to learn languages of all kinds, depending on what they want to speak.

Like other areas of Canada, schools in Ontario offer high school courses in languages such as French and German. French is useful for getting jobs in many government departments, tourism, and other types of work. German can also be useful in certain communities, and languages like Italian or Spanish can be good for maintaining ties with family or friends living in other countries.

Besides many of these spoken languages, Ontario has opportunities to learn American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes quebecoise (LSQ). These languages have their own grammar and can be difficult for students to learn, but they can be very useful for speaking with deaf classmates or relatives. Many high schools in Toronto and other cities have opportunities to learn these sign languages.

During the pandemic, two teenagers from Richmond Hill, Ontario decided to help people who are deaf communicate with those who hear. Jin Schofield and Sarvnaz Ale Mohammad invented a device called the ConchShell bracelet, which translates American Sign Language into speech. That way, people who are deaf can more easily communicate with others. For people who like solving problems, working on translation devices could be useful for helping to overcome communication barriers.

Students in Ontario come from many different countries and speak over one hundred different languages. Learning English is a priority for them because they must know the language for school and tasks such as asking for directions or helping with shopping, filling out forms, and anything else their family and friends need. English as a Second Language classes help to get students to the point where they can function at school and elsewhere.

Learning a second or third language can be very useful. English is very useful in most areas of Canada, and French is useful in Quebec, as well as other areas of the country. Besides government departments, social agencies or other organizations often prefer to hire people who know at least two languages. Sometimes, even jobs in libraries or schools can be easier to find for people who can use both French and English.

In some situations, knowing other languages can be equally important. Since Ukrainians started arriving in Canada in large numbers, for example, their language has become a very useful one to learn. Before that, Arabic was important for helping refugees from Syria. Meanwhile, many other languages have been good for working with refugees and other immigrants as they begin their own language learning.

Sometimes, people need extra help. For in-person classes outside high school, Berlitz courses are available in Ottawa, Toronto, and Vaughan. Berlitz is a worldwide language-teaching agency with courses at a variety of levels. Although many of the classes are intended for adults, the school also has classes for children and teenagers.

Learning a language takes time and effort. Regular practice is important, both in reading and speaking. Finding a study group or a few friends to practice the language with is important.

Ontario has many opportunities for language learning in high schools. If you want to start learning, you can check with your teachers for the best way to begin.



Berlitz. “Language School in Ottawa.” https://www.berlitz.com/en-ca/language-schools/ontario/ottawa

CBC Kids. “Profile—These 2 Teens Built a Sign Language Translator During the Pandemic.” https://www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/post/profile-these-2-teens-built-a-sign-language-translator-during-the-pandemic.

The Ontario Curriculum Grades 9 to 12. “Classical Studies and International Languages.” https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/secondary/classiclang912curr.pdf.

The Ontario Curriculum Grades 9 to 12. “English as a Second Language and English Literacy Development.” https://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/secondary/esl912currb.pdf.

Ontario Newsroom. “Ontario Offers New Sign Language Courses to Secondary Students.” https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/60652/ontario-offers-new-sign-language-courses-to-secondary-students.

Toronto District School Board. “High School.” https://www.tdsb.on.ca/High-School.

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