Effects of Canada’s Increasing Linguistic and Cultural Diversity on Educational Policy, Programming and Pedagogy


In Canada, 22.9% of people report a “mother tongue” that is not English or French (Government of Canada, 2017) and most of them are newcomers. Within Canadian primary and secondary school, there were 4.75 million students enrolled in the 2015/2016 school year (Statista, 2018), and 2.2 million children under age 15 who were foreign-born or who had at least one foreign-born parent (Government of Canada, 2017). Thirty-seven and a half percent of all Canadian children have an immigrant background (Government of Canada, 2017). These statistics point towards large numbers of students in Canadian schools who have a depth of linguistic resources and repertoire. This diversity has implications on educational policy, programming, and pedagogy. In order to ensure that the education provided to students in Canadian classrooms is relevant, future-focused, and honouring to the depth of linguistic and cultural resources represented within the classroom it is necessary for teachers and policy-makers to have a strong understanding of how English as an additional language (EAL) students learn language and literacy, and how they enrich the learning environment of the classroom as a whole. This article describes the effects of Canada’s increasing diversity on educational policy, programing and pedagogy.