Language Education Policy

Last updated on March 31, 2022

Date came into force or revised

Came into force 1997, revised 2004.



Policy statement

In accordance with Ministerial Order 295/95, the Required Areas of Study in an Educational Program Order, Boards of Education must offer a second language in Grades 5 to 8 to all students, except those students exempted in the Order.

Rationale or purpose of policy

The purpose of this policy is to describe the language education policy, especially the second language requirement for Grades 5 to 8.


Policy in full

This Language Education Policy is designed to recognize the official languages of Canada and the growing number of other languages spoken by British Columbians.

In the B.C. school system all students are expected to achieve proficiency in the English language. Francophone children whose parents qualify for minority language rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are eligible to receive French as the language of instruction.

English and French will be taught as first languages, all other languages will be taught as second languages.

All students, especially those of Indigenous ancestry, should have opportunities to learn an Indigenous language.

The Ministry of Education and Child Care encourages opportunities for all students to learn languages that are significant within their communities.

All students must take a second language as part of the curriculum in Grades 5 to 8, except the the following two situations:

  • A student has been identified as having special needs or is receiving English Language Learner (ELL)services services and is unable to demonstrate learning in relation to the expected learning outcomes of the second language course.
  • A student is enrolled in late French Immersion in Grade 6.

Boards of education decide which second languages will be offered. Core French will be the language offered if the board does not offer an alternative.

Only second language curricula which have program guides listed in the Educational Program Guide Order (PDF) are eligible to meet the second language requirement for Grades 5 to 8.

Boards of education may develop their own second language curricula for elective or additional language studies as permitted under the Board Authorized Course Order.

Boards may apply to the Ministry to have their locally developed second language curricula given provincial approval. (A locally developed second language curriculum that has received provincial approval is eligible to meet the second language requirement for Grades 5 to 8.)

Procedures related to policy

English Language Learning

Boards of education should provide programming that addresses the learning needs of individual ELL students, including learning opportunities that value the students' first language and diverse cultural backgrounds.

Francophone Minority Language Education Rights

Français Langue première 10, 11 and 12 and English Language Arts 10, 11 and 12 are graduation requirements for students in Programme francophone.

Indigenous Languages

Indigenous language courses (as with all second language courses) should be developed appropriate to second language learners. Only Indigenous languages with provincial curriculum for Grades 5 to 8 will be eligible to meet the second language requirement (see below). The board of education and the local Indigenous people should collaborate to develop Indigenous language curriculum and resources.

Second Language Requirement Grade 5 to 8

Boards of education should attempt to coordinate the second languages offered to ensure there is continuity of instruction in the same language for a student in Grades 5 to 8. Curricula for second languages offered in Grades 5 to 8 must be provincially approved. School boards may choose to submit a locally developed language course to the Ministry of Education and Child Care for approval as a provincial course.


Contact information

If you have any questions relating to the Language Education policy please contact the Ministry at: