Let’s discover Canada through its Official Languages! - Classroom activity guide
To discover Canada’s history using the timeline developed by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.
The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages developed the timeline “Since 1867: Official languages in Canada” to give students the opportunity to learn about Canada’s history from an official languages perspective. This interactive tool includes around 350 short entries detailing the evolution of the official languages across Canada since 1867. The entries are separated into five categories: Historical Event; Law and Policies; Education; Legal Decisions; and Culture, Leisure and Sports.
Teachers and students can use this timeline to discover or locate events in order to understand Canada’s linguistic composition and diversity as well as the ways in which they have changed. The timeline presents events chronologically, giving users a chance to see them with a big-picture view.
We have designed a quiz game to help teachers integrate the timeline into their lesson plans. Topics cover the history of Canada as a whole or specific provinces and territories. Questions are divided into two categories (“easy” and “difficult”) and are one of three types: “true or false,” “fill in the blank” or “multiple choice.”
This tool can be used in a number of ways (question-and-answer game, exploration, questionnaire, etc.). These activities are intended to teach students about the official languages and familiarize them with historical research.
Students from Grade 4 until the end of high school.
- Describe the linguistic composition of the population, including official language minority communities.
- Name the main languages spoken in Canada.
- Know events and key figures of the Canadian Francophonie.
- Situate facts and figures of Canadian history on a timeline.
Here are some suggestions of ways to present or start the classroom activities with your group:
- Go to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages timeline website and
put it up on the screen.
- Take some time to put the timeline into context:
- What is a timeline?
- What is the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages and what is its role?
- Remind students that Canada’s official languages are English and French.
- Present some facts and statistics taken from our infographics about the official language minority community in your province.
- The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages timeline begins in 1867, at the time of Confederation. Talk about this
part of Canada’s history.
- Make some general connections to Canada’s history since Confederation based on what has been taught in class.
- Show the students how to explore the timeline: by date, by province and by category.
Objective 1: Gather information about the official languages
These simple activities help students to familiarize themselves with the timeline. They must find answers to the questions using the timeline.
From Grade 4 until the end of high school.
You will need
Activity 1: Quiz game for the entire class
- The class chooses a few random quiz game cards. The entire class is encouraged to find the answer. For each card, a different student is chosen to browse the timeline and check the answer given by the majority of the class.
- Students can use the “Location,” “Category” or “Decades” fields to do their research.
Activity 2: Quiz game for small groups
- In groups of two or three, students choose a few random quiz game cards or province-specific cards.
- The teams use the timeline to answer their questions.
To increase the difficulty of the activity, students can think about an event that they would add to the timeline. Students must cite a reliable source for their chosen event.Return to footnote
Objective 2: Present information about the official languages
The purpose of these activities is to encourage students to research events or key figures from the timeline in order to present them to the class.
From Grade 7 until the end of high school.
You will need
- Internet access to display the timeline (such as an interactive whiteboard or computer lab)
- Card stock, pencils, pens, felt pens, etc. (for Activity 4 only)
Activity 1: My province
- Ask students to choose a key fact or historical figure from their province on the timeline.
- Ask students to research the chosen event or historical figure.
- Have students present the chosen event or historical figure to the class.
Activity 2: The Canadian Francophonie
- Assign a province to each group of two to four students.
- Ask each group to identify two or three significant official languages events that took place in that province. They must research the context of these events and use infographics to better understand the Francophone community of the province they studied.
- Have students present the events to the class.
Activity 3: Decades
- Assign a decade to each group of two to four students.
- Ask each group to choose from the timeline the two events or historical figures that they find to be the most notable during this decade and do a bit of research on them.
- Have students present the events and historical figures to the class.
Activity 4: My timeline project
- Ask groups of students to choose five to seven significant official languages historical facts for their province. They can choose events that are not featured on the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages timeline.
- Ask the groups to create their own timelines with images, texts and other elements.
- Have students present the timelines to the class.