Why Language Skills are Essential for Academic and Career Success in Canada

Posted on November 29th, 2019 6:50pm
By: paulteitelman

When are we going to use this?

It’s a question most language teachers have heard at some point or another. Some educators find it a bit frustrating to have to justify the importance of their subject, but kids do have a right to know the practical value of the lessons they are studying.

So in a world where technical knowledge based in science, math, and engineering is creating hundreds of thousands of jobs every year, why should students worry about English literature and conversational French?

The truth is that language skills continue to be absolutely essential for success across a wide range of different industries. And while lessons about the importance of coordinating conjunctions may not seem to have the same real-world applicability as biology labs, effective communication is impossible without a deep appreciation for and facility with language.  

In this post, we will discuss some of the reasons why you should work with your child to improve their abilities in reading, writing, listening, and speaking in English and French, and will also provide examples of some of the practical things you can do to build up your child’s language skills at home.

Employers are Looking for Communicators

There is no question that studying in a STEM-related field will open doors for employment, but students who pursue English, Communications, Foreign Languages, and Journalism are also in high demand among employers across a range of different industries — not because they can quote Shakespeare or analyze a poem, but because they know how to analyze and share information.

Industry surveys consistently show that good writing and speaking skills are at the top of the list of qualities employers want new hires to posses. This means that all the hours put into learning the difference between a defining and a non-defining relative clause can pay off big when the time comes for a young person to enter the workforce.

So how can you help your kids become better communicators? Children who are struggling to keep up with their language arts curriculum can benefit from the help of Toronto English tutors who know the program, but if you really want them to excel in the long term you should also find ways to inspire a love of language and an appreciation for its nuances.

One simple practice you can make part of your daily life is vocabulary extension. There are more than 170,000 words in the English language, but the average native speaker only knows 20,000 (the average university graduate knows 40,000) — why not challenge your kids to add one new word to their vocabulary every day?

Not only is this a great way to make learning competitive and fun, it can have the added benefit of helping them learn more about the world around them. If they are interested in animals, for example, you can encourage them to add more zoological language to their vocabulary using words like “primate” or “herbivore.”

The Importance of Bilingualism

In Canada, language proficiency isn’t just about how well you can communicate in your native tongue: it’s also about developing competence in the nation’s second official language.

Bilingualism is both official federal government policy and a lived reality for millions of people, and this means that young people who can communicate effectively in both English and French will find it much easier to build careers in business, education, and the civil service at the national level. 

But having two languages will also give you an advantage over monolingual competitors in just about every other sphere of life. The simple fact of being bilingual suggests a certain degree of diligence, dedication, and intellectual ability, and in a country that prides itself on its multiculturalism, command of both official languages can be a huge boon.

Unfortunately, while the benefits of bilingualism are apparent to most Canadians, actually being able to develop competence in both languages can be quite difficult. This is not only because of the famous political and cultural divide between English and French Canada — the country’s famous “two solitudes” — but also because of the way the languages are distributed geographically.

Bilingualism may be built into the country’s DNA, but the demographic realities are such that outside a few scattered pockets (the Ottawa-Montreal corridor, Quebec’s Eastern Townships, New Brunswick, and parts of Manitoba), most children live their lives in either English or French-dominated contexts.  

So how can you improve your Toronto French class grades and achieve a higher degree of fluency in the language without entering French immersion? These days, there are plenty of options.

Popular apps like Duolingo make language learning easy and fun, and let your child practice their speaking, listening, grammar and vocabulary anywhere, at any time. And for those living in large cities, resources like the Alliance Française can help you connect to other families trying to improve their children’s French.

But if you really want to build toward full bilingualism, it will also be necessary to get personalized academic support through a tutor. Prep Academy Tutors is committed to helping people across the Greater Toronto Area become more fluent, so hire our best Mississauga French tutor to find out how big a difference tutoring can make in your child’s second language acquisition.

Language Skills are Portable Skills

In the twenty-first century economy, the only constant is change. So as a responsible parent, how can you prepare you children to compete in a workforce that is already seeing entire industries made redundant by new technology?

One of the benefits of being a good communicator is that the skill is highly portable, meaning that they can easily be transferred between industries. It doesn’t matter how technologically advanced our society becomes, we will still need people whose language skills make it possible for them to serve as a bridge between programmers and the sales team, or to generate clear, accessible, and appropriate content, or work in public relations.

And yet even as language skills become more and more critical, the number of people who can communicate effectively in writing is decreasing every year. Increasingly, students are entering university barely able to compose opinion essays.

Because university programs are largely designed with the assumption that matriculating students already have adequate literacy skills, they are unlikely to improve their communication skills significantly unless they are specifically entering an English degree program. Little wonder, then, that standards continue to fall: as the Globe and Mail reported last year, only one in four Ontario postsecondary students lacks basic literacy skills.

The upshot of this is that students who are able to develop strong language skills at the secondary level will be ideally positioned for academic success in university or college, and a plethora of options once they enter the workforce.

If you want to improve your children’s literacy, there are a number of options available to you. You can hire Montreal English tutors who can provide in-home service that is tailored to each individual student’s needs, and you can also encourage them to get involved in any after-school clubs that provide fun ways to explore language through games like scrabble or activities like playwriting and screenwriting.

The most important thing you can do to help improve literacy, however, is to encourage reading. This doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down with a fat novel: magazines, newspapers, and non-fiction books on topics they care about can also help children and teens develop an appreciation for and interest in reading.

It is worth noting by way of conclusion that while there are many practical reasons to improve one’s language skills and abilities, it can also be an end in itself. As the old saying has it, “the limits of my language are the limits of my world” — for every new word and phrase your child brings into their lexicon, their understanding of reality becomes a little bit broader.

No matter what other interests your child might have, academic or otherwise, helping them develop strong language skills (both in English and in French) is one of the surest ways to guarantee that they will be prepared for the challenges that await them in higher education and over the course of their lives.

While there are many things you can do to improve your children’s language skills as part of their daily routine, tutoring can play a crucial role in helping kids at key stages in their language development, such as learning to read and write, or preparing for the Ontario literacy test.

If you want to ensure your kids get the personalized one-on-one help they need to acquire the basic language competencies they will rely on for the rest of their lives, get in touch with Prep Academy Tutors today to find out more about our unique approach to tutoring in Toronto and Montreal.