ARCHIVED - 9. Recommendations

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The following section sets out the recommendations of the Commissioner of Official Languages to governments, universities and other key partners.

9.1 First steps

Recommendation 1: Making action happen

In order to ensure a follow-up to the conclusions and recommendations of this report, the Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, given his mandate to encourage and support the learning of English and French in Canada, convene a meeting of interested parties, including universities, educational organizations, language experts and governments, to discuss how to improve second-language learning opportunities in Canada’s universities and identify possible next steps and future actions.

9.2 Recommendations for governments

Governments—both the Government of Canada and provincial/territorial governments—have a vital interest and an important role to play in promoting and supporting improved second-language opportunities at Canada’s universities.

To this end, governments should act in their own areas of responsibility and also work collaboratively together and with universities and other interested parties.

Specifically, governments should demonstrate leadership, develop and promote appropriate policies on second-language learning, bring different partners together to take action and make adequate financial assistance available to institutions.

Recommendation 2: Making second-language learning a priority

The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and provincial and territorial governments, through the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, develop an overall policy statement recognizing second-language learning as an integral element of education at the university level in Canada, and encourage universities to offer enhanced second-language learning opportunities. This policy should identify improving second-language learning opportunities at Canada’s universities as a joint priority for action, and governments should enter into discussions on how to best collaborate to this end with each other and with universities and with other interested parties.

 

Recommendation 3: A new fund

The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that the Government of Canada and the provincial and territorial governments establish a new fund to provide financial assistance to universities to develop and implement new initiatives to improve second-language learning opportunities. This fund should not, however, diminish the existing support as well as the need for additional support of minority-language and bilingual institutions.

The fund should provide incremental funding above the currently allocated resources for the official languages in education agreements, and should include mechanisms for results-based accountability and public reporting, including agreed-upon performance indicators, as well as provisions to promote the mobility of students in Canada.

Priority should be given to initiatives that involve collaboration among English- and French-language institutions, particularly those in a minority-language situation as well as bilingual institutions, and to initiatives that foster opportunities for students to live and study in their second-language milieu. Support should also be provided for pilot projects and the dissemination of information about results and effective practices.

In the context of this fund, the Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that the Government of Canada and the provincial and territorial governments establish a new Canadian program to promote opportunities for students to study intensively in their second language at another Canadian institution. This program would be the Canadian equivalent of the successful Erasmus and Erasmus Mundus programs designed to foster co-operation across European universities, exchange and dialogue between cultures, and the mobility of students and academics, in order to prepare participants for life in a global, knowledge-based society.

The following recommendation is addressed to the Government of Canada with respect to second-language learning and the public service.

Recommendation 4: The public service and universities

The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that the Government of Canada, in the context of public service renewal, establish as a priority working with provincial and territorial governments and with universities to increase the pool of bilingual candidates for public service positions and ensure access for all Canadians.

In particular, the Commissioner recommends that

  • the Government of Canada accelerate the implementation of its commitment in the Roadmap for Canada’s Linguistic Duality 2008–2013 to undertake a pilot project by the Canada School of Public Service to provide access to its learning products to Canadian universities, and extend the project to include additional universities;
  • the Public Service Commission work with universities to develop a language proficiency framework such as the Common European Framework of reference for Languages to establish equivalencies between the public service exams and those used by universities, and explore the possibility of universities being able to pre-qualify students as meeting the different levels of linguistic requirements for public service positions;
  • the Government of Canada work with provincial and territorial governments and with universities to enhance the official-language dimension of university programs that relate to the public administration of the country in the broader sense. This should include appreciation of linguistic duality and official-languages policy as a fundamental element of public policy and administration in Canada; opportunities for students in, for example, public administration, political science and law programs to improve their proficiency in their second language; opportunities to study in their second language in this field; and opportunities to study and work in their second-language milieu.

9.3 Recommendations for universities

Canada’s universities have a primary responsibility to take action to improve second-language learning opportunities for young people. Canada’s universities need to better respond to their students’ needs and equip them for the job market. The following recommendations propose action by universities both individually and on a collective basis.

Recommendation 5: Taking action

The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that individual institutions develop strategies and action plans to improve second-language learning opportunities in the context of each institution’s own situation and circumstances.

In particular, the Commissioner recommends that institutions develop and offer students more opportunities for intensive second-language learning, including second-language courses linked to their field of academic study, opportunities to study in their second language and opportunities to live and study in the second-language milieu and interact with persons from the other language group.

The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that institutions place particular emphasis on developing inter-institutional collaboration and using technology to address these needs.

 

Recommendation 6: Examining different approaches

The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada work with universities to explore different approaches to improve second-language learning opportunities by promoting enhanced partnerships and collaboration among institutions.

This could involve establishing a working group of interested institutions to examine key issues and to develop proposals and advice for university presidents and for governments, including proposals for pilot projects to test different models and approaches.

It could also involve establishing a working group of French-language institutions outside Quebec to examine issues and develop proposals relating to the attraction and integration of English-speaking students, and to enhance collaboration on second-language learning with English-language institutions.

 

Recommendation 7: Obtaining more information

The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that universities collect further information on the willingness and ability of professors to teach courses in the other language, and on students’ second-language learning objectives and interest in the kinds of opportunities that they would like.

Surveys and studies in this respect could be undertaken by individual universities, or collectively through the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and other interested parties.

 

Recommendation 8: Adopting second-language policies

The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that universities adopt formal policies relating to second-language learning in the context of an overall strategy to enhance second-language learning.

The Commissioner also recommends that universities identify other ways and means to recognize the importance of second-language learning and demonstrate the value that they attach to it.

This could include, for example, developing new or strengthened second-language requirements as part of general university requirements or that are targeted to specific academic disciplines, recognizing the challenge of second-language learning through immersion or other forms of intensive study in the second language and taking such experience into consideration in assessing applications to university or to specific programs.

9.4 Recommendations for further study and research

Recommendation 9: Further study

The Commissioner of Official Languages recommends that governments, universities, the private sector and other organizations undertake further research on second-language learning at the university level. This research could include documenting the following:

  • Employer and labour market demand for knowledge of a second language (governments, private sector organizations and other interested parties);
  • Additional data and information relating to second-language learning in university, for example, second-language learning experience and proficiency of students arriving at university or proficiency levels on graduation from university (governments, universities, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, and other interested parties);
  • The experience, policies, models and effective practices of other countries with respect to second-language learning at university (governments, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and other interested parties).


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