Canada has two official languages: English and French. English is the most commonly spoken language in most provinces and territories.
French is the main language spoken in Quebec and in some areas of Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba. There are also francophone communities in all provinces and territories across Canada. Quebec has a large minority of residents who speak English.
We offer all official federal government services, publications and documents in both English and French.
The importance of language skills
English or French language skills are very important to help you settle in Canada. You may choose to focus on learning or improving one or the other. This will likely depend on which of the two languages most people speak in the area where you live.
Strong English or French skills will help with:
- getting a job
- going to school
- accessing services
- helping your children with school work
- meeting and talking to people
- getting your Canadian citizenship
Take steps to improve your French or English while you are still in your home country and as soon as you arrive in Canada.
If you already speak an official language, think about learning the other. In many parts of Canada, being able to speak both is an advantage for finding a job and taking part in your community.
The Language Portal of Canada has a variety of tools and resources to improve your language skills.
Language skills for work
The English or French skills you needed to be eligible to immigrate may not be strong enough for you to work in your field.
Most regulated jobs and trades require you to:
- be fluent in English or French
- have a strong knowledge of all work-related language
- understand phrases or expressions used, some of which may be unique to Canada
Find out about the language requirements you must meet to work in your field. If needed, contact your regulatory body to learn about the type of language test that will be used to evaluate or assess you.
You may want to consider taking language classes or looking for bridging programs that offer both language training and work experience.
You can take language classes to learn English or French once in Canada. Federal, provincial and territorial governments across Canada fund language classes. You’ll need to pay for private language classes.
To find information about other language training programs funded by the provinces or territories:
- ask an organization that helps newcomers in your area
- visit the newcomers comunity of the province or territory where you live
Testing your current language skills before you registering
Before you start a class, you must get tested to find out your current language skills. Visit a language assessment centre in your city and tell them you’re interested in taking language classes.
You can do a self-assessment test to find out your current language level before doing a formal language test.
Language tests and certificates
There are cases where you may need to prove your ability in either English or French, such as:
- when you apply for a job
- to get into a university or college
There are several language tests that are widely accepted. They will give you a certificate and test results that you can use for many purposes.
English language tests and certificates:
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) (universities and colleges usually need this)
French language tests and certificates:
- Test d’évaluation de français (TEF)
- Diplôme d’études en langue française (DELF)
You can also find out about these tests from some government language testing centres or private language schools.