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Canada, studying in two cultures

On the new continent Canada represents a true cultural exception. English and French are the official languages and the two cultures coexist in the educational establishments and in a number of provinces. Thus, Canada offers the possibility to develop in two of the most well-known languages and to obtain a worldwide passport for life.

One country, two languages and two cultures

From a population of 30 million people, today only 14% speak French, 67% only English and 2% neither of the two, and 17% of Canadians are capable of speaking both official languages.

This is an actual statistic which the Canadian federal state took time to take it into consideration. The "Peaceful Revolution" was needed so that in 1969, following the recommendation of the Royal Commission survey on bilingualism and biculturalism, the first official law for languages established French and English as official languages for all Canadian federal institutions. This requires that all that serves the population must be in these two languages. Since then, the debates in the federal parliament are carried out in the two languages. In 1982, the Canadian Charter for Rights and Freedoms has reinforced the linguistic rights of Canadians, notably ruling on the right of education in the minority language of the province, English or French.

The province of New Brunswick, a neighbour of Quebec, has at this moment become the only official bilingual province. Quebec itself, being the official French speaking province.

Universities and higher education institutions have served and sometimes even preceded the movement for the recognition of French. Therefore, it is not surprising that today it is these institutions that offer bilingual programs in the different fields of studies, and of course the studies of languages.

The plus of a double culture at university

The advantages for a student wishing to study in Canada are evident: a number of establishments deliver various teachings in the two languages. This will enable you to progress in a foreign language. Language is evidently a type of passport that can be used to discover a different country. In Canada you will have the occasion to actually study in the Anglo-Saxon and French approaches within the framework of law, business, and finance courses. For each of these subjects you will assimilate a new culture with its codes and rites. In fact, like all good businesses know, it is not sufficient to simply translate an offer from English to French in order to attract new markets in a French-speaking country. One must know the rules of politeness and the negotiating habits used in French-speaking countries.

Furthermore, the mastering of the two languages permits the accessibility to two huge and rich literatures, encourages international mobility and leads to a much larger opening of the spirit. The benefits at the professional scale are that a program mixing two cultures is simply ... double the profit!

Where to apply and in which subjects to benefit from the double Canadian culture?

Concretely, there are a number of ways to profit from the exceptional linguistic situation of Canada. In the first place, Canada has a number of bilingual institutions. As well as being the capital of Canada - an English-speaking area - it is also the location of the largest bilingual university of the country: the University of Ottawa. In this prestigious university, the classes are taught in either English or French, or in both languages in Arts, Sciences, Law (civil and common law), Engineering, Education, Medicine, Social Sciences and Administration. The work handed in by the students can be written in either French or English. Students who do not have a sufficient level in either of the two languages, will take complementary second language classes. For more information, refer to the official website of the university:

There are a number of other bilingual institutions in Canada, for example the Glendon College, which is affiliated to the University of York in Toronto, (, or the Royal Military College of Canada (

On the other hand, it is possible to develop a knowledge of French and English as well as their corresponding cultures, by applying to an English language university based in a French-speaking area or vise versa: this is one of the advantages of McGill University, an English-speaking university based in Montreal, one of the largest French-speaking cities in the world ( In addition, this university works in certain bilingual programs in collaboration with the Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal, which is a French-speaking university.

Finally, Canada presents advantages tied with its double culture in certain training subjects .

Civil and Common Law

Civil law is the dominating judicial system in Europe, one can equally speak of the "written law", or Latin. On the other hand, the common law system is used in the United States and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and in the majority of the Commonwealth countries.

Canada is a federal state and the provinces that compose it are organized according to a judicial system particular to each provinces’ history. Since Quebec is the oldest French colony it is always ruled by civil law. The rest of Canada is under the judiciary plan of common law which comes from the British heritage. Therefore, Canadian universities teach both types of law and are thus in a strong position to attract future lawyers from around the world. This enables those who wish to be introduced to the two most practiced judicial systems in the world, within the framework of internationalization of exchanges and globalization.

Lawyers who are competent in both systems are worth gold on the world job market. It is only in Canada that they have the best opportunities to be educated in direct contact of the two types of law and with professors who are well versed in both cultures, Latin and Anglo-Saxon.

Second language programs in Canada

The teaching of languages has become one of the specialities of Canadian universities and is the second subject that directly benefits from the dual Canadian culture. In fact, there are numerous second language immersion classes that are offered in French and English. The Committees of the Second Language Programs of Canada offers a complete list of universities offering this type of program on their website:

Students are placed in a general context favourable to the apprenticeship in a foreign language and civilization thanks to intensive language classes, civilization classes and of course a different linguistic environment. For example, students choosing to perfection their French can study for 15 weeks at the University of Laval which is in Quebec, in the heart of french-speaking Canada.

The linguistic context around the campus is evidently a major asset of Canadian universities for English or French teaching, but that is not all, because the Canadian language teachers use well tried tools at all levels of teaching, that have been elaborated for many years, from kindergarten to university. This has made their immersion classes the best in the world.

Therefore, Canada represents a sort of Eldorado that wishes to open different linguistic practices or relational. If you choose to register at a bilingual establishment or to reside in a linguistic region which is different from your own all the while educated in ones language, one knows that in Canada you can discover a different culture without being cut off completely from ones own way of life.

Law, business, engineering, computer studies ... in all the subjects a number of universities in Canada mix the vocabulary and traditions enabling for a greater mobility; a quality that is worth gold in a globalized world.


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