Language Programs in Canada

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A Guide to Language Programs in Canada

So you want to go to Canada, eh? Welcome to the home of the bilingual belt! Canada is one of the few countries that has more than one official language, making it a haven for foreign language learners. Not to mention the legendary hospitality and friendliness of Canadians that can greatly lower the wattage on the initial culture shock meter. This, combined with the rich and unique French history and culture, are what make language schools in Canada so attractive. With countless language programs and locations to fit any student's needs, pursuing language courses in Canada is a decision you won’t regret!


An extremely large country, Canada is bursting with opportunities for foreign language study. From Vancouver to New Brunswick, there is surely a language school in Canada tailored to fit your personality and language goals.

Quebec City is the only major city in Canada that offers a total French-speaking environment, making it ideal for French language programs and practicing French in the real world. As the cradle of the francophone culture in the Americas, Quebec City offers an unparalleled opportunity for French language immersion programs in Canada. There are many language schools, namely Collège Mérici, in downtown Quebec City, where a short walk can get you to Old Quebec and other major historical landmarks, allowing you to supplement your studies with a splash of history. On the weekends, there will be plenty of opportunities to explore all the history that's embedded into the local culture, through the art museums, parks, and shops all over the city.

Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world, carrying on the European tradition of keeping culture within easy reach. Many of the city’s old town areas even have a distinct European feel to them, causing visitors to double take to make sure they’re still in Canada and not France. You'll find many old European style buildings along cobblestone streets that take you back to the French colonial days, and yet these areas will also be oozing with nightlife. Local artists and performers can be found throughout the city showing off their talents regularly any time of day. There are also a number of restaurants (where you can get your poutine fix), bars, and of course, hockey games worth checking out. Montreal sets the scene for you to unwind after class, while rooting for your new favorite hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens.

Language Programs in Canada

It can be a daunting task to sort through all of the options and choose a reputable language school in Canada that suits you. Take your time reading reviews when trying to differentiate between programs and trying to narrow down your search. Decide which language school in Canada really speaks to what you are looking for, and then dive into course options. French is the most common language of study in Canada, followed by English, as these are both official national languages.

Language schools in Canada generally follow international standards, ensuring compatibility with internationally recognized examinations, such as DELF and TCF. Instructors usually focus on providing students with a foundation in French or English that will serve them well in the future, no matter where their career takes them. Language students will also be pleased to know that there are several language programs in Canada accredited by well-known international universities and colleges.

Language immersion programs in Canada collaborate with the best private schools whenever possible, allowing language students to experience complete linguistic and cultural immersion by integrating into life as a student at a traditional academic institution, often living with a French-Canadian family, and participating in cultural activities and excursions.

Summer language programs typically run from June to August for individuals of all ages. Intensive summer programs in Canada for adults are also available and include opportunities to focus on intensive French lessons, French for teachers, French and cooking, French and drama, French and photography, French and music, and many other specialized areas. Passe un bon été!

Costs & Affordability

There are several scholarships available specifically for individuals that want to participate in language programs in Canada, but need to minimize their program expenses (who doesn’t though?). Take a minute to peruse GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory to see what scholarships and grants you are eligible for. Also, be sure to check with your language program provider and/or academic advisor so they can point you in the direction of any untapped financial resources you can take advantage of.

The cost of living in Canada is fairly average. Daily expenses and hidden costs are reduced when living with a host family (usually on a full board basis) and there are plenty of free (the best four letter “f” word) activities to help you make the most of your time in Canada on a budget.

Accommodation & Visas

Most language programs in Canada push the total immersion experience, and will therefore organize a host family for you to live with during your studies. It’s no secret that living with locals will challenge you to use your new language skills regularly (and help them stick), and reward you with the opportunity to have a more intimate experience of Canadian culture. Think of it as a free tutoring session after class! Living with a host family is also an antidote to homesickness, since students will be able to share their daily life with the family, including leisure time and outings. Host families are typically local French-speaking families who are screened before being selected to ensure an optimal cultural experience, keep you safe, and provide peace of mind to your family back home.

Since Canada tends to mind its own business, the visa process is fairly simple. Obtaining a visa to attend a language school in Canada may be easier than signing up for a Netflix account. The Canadian Immigration office sits low on the strictness scale, saving travelers a lots of paperwork headaches. If you have a valid passport, you can simply apply for a study permit online and you will likely be good to go. For more information on Canadian visas, visit GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory.

Benefits & Challenges

Diving head first into a new culture does not guarantee ease and comfort, but it does offer something much better: a chance for growth beyond knowledge that will facilitate mindfulness and humility that cannot be shaken. So, what are you waiting for? Conquer the challenges and reap the benefits of language study in Canada!

It’s safe. With an apologetic reputation, Canada continues to top the charts as one of the safest countries in the world. Just watch out for rogue moose!

Cultural Immersion. To educate literally means to lead out, to lead out of confinement, narrowness, darkness, and comfort. Learning a foreign language without leaving the comfort of your home country and culture presents an obstacle of narrowness that can only be hurdled by total immersion of a culture. To be completely fluent in a foreign language you need a total understanding of the culture and nonverbal communication, instead of just filling up and facts and translations. Communication is a two way street and listening is perhaps the road less traveled. Reel in your eagerness to practice your new speaking skills and take the time to listen and observe how the natives interact and engage with one another during language courses in Canada.

Career advantage. With universal unemployment problems, multilingual abilities have become an unquestionable competitive edge over competing applicants. Language abilities tell of a person’s intelligence, flexibility, openness, and decision-making skills. When an interviewer sees that you learned a new language smack dab in the middle of the culture where it originates, you will undoubtedly set the bar high for all other candidates (P.S. Take advantage of any networking opportunities. Canadians don’t have beef with anybody so they make great references!). 

Don’t use English as a crutch. Resist the temptation to revert back to your mother tongue when you’re in a pinch. Pushing through tough situations will produce a whole new learning environment that can’t be replicated in a classroom. Don’t shortchange yourself! 

Studying a foreign language abroad teaches and encourages respect for other people, and fosters an understanding of the interrelation of language and human nature. Learn a language abroad and join the fight to break down the barriers of distrust and fear. The tolerance and flexibility you gain from this experience will undeniably shine for others to see. Words have the power to speak life. Being able to speak the same words in more than one language creates space for not only changing your worldview, but changing the world.

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A Guide To
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