Many people who are hoping to move to Canada begin by improving their English-language skills. That is because you have to pass an English exam to immigrate via Express Entry.
But did you know that mastering French can also help you qualify for Express Entry?
French is one of the nation’s two official languages, but it is less common. Therefore, although you must be proficient in English, you will earn bonus points if you also know French.
Plus, Canadian employers might prefer to hire someone who speaks French. Securing employment is helpful, because work experience also counts toward Express Entry.
To improve your language skills, you can choose to attend a college or university where the courses are taught in French. Immersion programs allow you to practice your French while pursuing an unrelated major. Graduating from a French immersion program could help you stand out when applying for jobs.
Below, learn more about the advantages of speaking French as an international newcomer in Canada. You will also find an overview of colleges and universities that offer programs in French.
The Advantages of Speaking French for Canadian Immigrants
As either a primary or secondary language, it is valuable for Canadian residents to know French. You can become fluent by enrolling in either a fully immersive (all-French) or bilingual (French-English) program. These are offered across several provinces, so you will be able to choose the environment, location, and program type that sounds right to you.
Here are two of the ways that French can contribute to your successful immigration journey:
Gain Work Experience in Canada
After graduating from a post-secondary degree program, you can earn points toward Express Entry by gaining work experience in Canada. (This falls under the Canadian Experience Class.)
Just remember, you must first obtain a post-graduation work permit. Then, be sure to promote your French-language skills on your résumé and in your cover letter when applying for jobs.
Many employers seek skilled immigrants who can speak French. Improve your chances of landing a job by using your time at school to work on your French.
Qualify for the Provincial Nominee Program
In addition to Express Entry, immigrant hopefuls can look into the Provincial Nominee Program.
This program allows the provinces and territories to nominate individuals for immigration to Canada. If you have attended school in a certain province, participated in the local community, found work in the area (or shown value as a future employee), and demonstrated cultural interest—such as learning French—it might improve your chances of earning this special nomination.
The Provincial Nominee Program does, however, presume that you will settle in that particular area once you have received your visa. If this is your aim, it is important to choose where you study and work carefully. Be sure it is somewhere you could see yourself living for many years.
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French Universities and Colleges in Canada
French immersion programs can improve your chances of immigrating after graduation.
If French is your native language, or your skills are very advanced, you might want to choose a complete immersion program. If French is a secondary language, or one you are still working on, another option is to attend a bilingual program.
Although not exhaustive, the list below demonstrates the kinds of French-language programs that you can find across Canada—organized by province.
Simon Fraser University is located in scenic Burnaby, British Columbia. Students can study in French (or English) within the school of Arts and Social Sciences and the school of Education. At Simon Fraser, international students make up about 19 percent of the student population. Many of those who participate in French programs further their language development skills by taking advantage of the school’s partnerships and studying abroad in Europe and Quebec.
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, l’Université de Sainte-Boniface is the only fully immersive French-language university in the province and is located in the French Quarter. The university provides a range of undergraduate programs—from business administration to translation and social work. It also offers master’s degrees in education and in arts.
French is the language of instruction at Hearst University’s three campuses in picturesque Northeastern Ontario. Also known as Université de Hearst, it offers the best of both worlds: low tuition fees and high-quality education. Hearst is known throughout the region for its Franco-Ontarian pride.
Sudbury, the home of the Big Nickel, also hosts the Laurentian University/Université Laurentienne, which is fully bilingual. There are 800 course sections that are entirely taught in French; with these courses alone, you can graduate with one of 150 possible degrees in 43 disciplines.
If you would like a smaller campus but still want the feel of a city, then fully bilingual York University – Glendon Campus in Toronto might be the best option for you. Not only can you to practice your language skills in both English and French, you will also benefit from a culturally diverse staff hailing from over 100 countries.
In the nation’s capital, you will also find the University of Ottawa. At this prestigious institution, you can study in French, English, or both.
The University of Moncton is the largest French-language institution in Canada, outside of Quebec. Situated in New Brunswick, one of Canada’s Atlantic provinces, the university offers more than 160 programs of study. They include law, nursing, science, and social work. Students enjoy the local beaches, parks, and hiking trails.
Another option is Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick, New Brunswick’s French language community college. Its programs of study include arts and culture, natural sciences, and community services.
Your Questions Answered
Preparing for Your Immigration Journey
Whether you want to join a French-language program at a large university or cozy college, in a big city or small town, you have plenty of options to choose from in Canada. Consider which academic environment will best meet your needs, as well as which province you might find appealing to live and work in once you graduate.
You can learn more about your options through the Association des Collèges et Universités de la Francophonie Canadienne, an organization supported by the government of Canada.
Regardless of where you study, it will take more than strong language skills to call the Great White North a permanent home. Research Canada’s immigration processes and policies carefully, so that you can take advantage of every opportunity and be prepared in case of potential setbacks. Be sure that you thoroughly understand your options before planning your education and post-graduate journey.
It is a good idea to start this research early. However, it is undeniable that reading, writing, and speaking French will be a valuable asset along the way.
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