Looking to gain Canadian permanent residence? Here are tools to increase your French language ability

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: August 15, 2023

Recent months have seen Express Entry begin targeted category-based draws for candidates in the federal pool who meet Canada’s economic and demographic goals. For 2023, one of these candidate categories is those with French-language proficiency.

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has already held targeted draws for this group, inviting candidates with French proficiency; and holding draws with noticeably lower Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores than other category-based selection draws and all-program Express Entry draws.

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In light of this, many in Canada and abroad are choosing to learn French to increase their chances of receiving an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence (PR) in Canada. Below, we have assembled resources for those both inside and outside of Canada, and where these resources can be used in one’s language learning journey.

What are the stages of language learning?

According to American linguist and educational researcher Stephen Krashen, the process of acquiring a second language can be broken down into five steps:

Stage 1: Silent/receptive

This stage may last from several hours to several months depending on the individual learner. During this time, new language learners typically learn vocabulary and practice pronouncing new words. While they may engage in self-talk, they don’t normally speak the language with any fluency or real understanding.

Stage 2: Early production

This stage may last about six months, during which language learners typically acquire an understanding of up to 1,000 words. They may also learn to speak some words and begin forming short phrases, even though they may not be grammatically correct.

Stage 3: Speech emergence

By this stage, learners typically acquire a vocabulary of up to 3,000 words and learn to communicate by putting the words in short phrases, sentences, and questions. Again, they may not be grammatically correct, but this is an important stage during which learners gain greater comprehension and begin reading and writing in their second language.

Stage 4: Intermediate fluency

At this stage, which may last for a year or more after speech emergence, learners typically have a vocabulary of as many as 6,000 words. They usually acquire the ability to communicate in writing and speech using more complex sentences. This crucial stage is also when learners begin thinking in their second language, which helps them gain more proficiency with speaking it.

Stage 5: Continued language development/advanced fluency

It takes most learners at least two years to reach this stage, and then up to 10 years to achieve full mastery of the second language with all its complexities and nuances. Second language learners need ongoing opportunities to engage in discussions and express themselves in their new language in order to maintain fluency in it.

Note: Many of the timeframes provided here are averages and can vary greatly depending on the individual and their degree of immersion in a given language

Resources for those outside of Canada

Those outside of Canada can use a variety of online resources to gain proficiency in French. Below are some of the most popular options:

Rosetta Stone—Rosetta Stone is an online platform that offers a variety of services, including its own application, speech recognition technology, and bite-sized lessons. Its immersive technique helps learners in the first and second stages of language learning develop comprehension and fluency. The platform is Ideal for soaking up new vocabulary and practicing pronunciations. Though it does come with costs, Rosetta Stone has a variety of pricing plans to deliver affordable language learning.

Babbel—Babbel is a language learning application that puts an emphasis on applicable vocabulary and language learning. The app looks to present information through a recurrent method that allows for reinforcement in language learning. The app also brings users real-life dialogues, vocabulary, and practical topics necessary for stages one, two and three of language development.

Busuu—Busuu is a free online platform and application that puts an emphasis on practicing with others. While the service does help with basic vocabulary and sentence formation—where Busuu differentiates itself is with its network of language speakers, live practice sessions. These features make Busuu the app perfect for stage three, four and five learners who want convenient and portable lessons to learn on-the-go and cement their language foundation.

Preply—Preply is an online platform that helps connect new language learners with tutors who can teach in that specific language (even offering trial sessions in some instances). The site allows for a variety of filters and can even help gear users towards tutors who have experience with specific learning requirements (for example, studying for an immigration language test). Due to the highly personalised nature of the learning model, Preply can be used by those in any stage of language learning.

Italki—Similar to Preply, Italki is another online platform that helps connect tutors and language learners. Italki also has a lot of filters for users to find teachers, including budget, time and need for language learning. Many tutors on the platform also have experience with approved immigration language tests, with prices varying from tutor to tutor. Italki can be used at any stage of the language learning process.

Resources for those already in Canada

While all of the above resources will be available to candidates in Canada as well, those already in the country can also benefit from the following tools:

Government supports—Provincial and municipal governments can offer temporary residents (student and work visa holders) language learning supports for free. This can greatly depend on the area in which one resides, and the local government jurisdiction in question. To find out more, it is advisable to do a web search for newcomer serving organisations in your area and get into contact with the specific service providing organisation to assess your eligibility. Depending on which language learning supports are offered, these services can potentially cover all stages of the language learning process.

Mauril—Mauril is a Canadian application that takes a unique view of language learning. The app focuses on Canadian audio and video content, to help train listening and comprehension ability in users. By providing Canadian-focused content, the app benefits stage one, two and four learners—helping these users not just build basic vocabulary and comprehension, but also learn more about Canadian culture and language nuances.

Part-time courses and continuing studies—Many universities, colleges, and private companies in Canada also offer part-time courses for those who are currently working or studying full-time. A quick web search can reveal what courses are available in your area. Though this may be a more expensive option; depending on the scope of courses offered, these programs can potentially cover all stages of language learning, enabling learners with a community to practice and refine their French-language skills.

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