Principles Underlying the Language Curriculum
The Ontario language curriculum for Grades 1 to 8 is founded on the following principles:
- An effective language curriculum is based on and informed by evidence-based research.
In response to the recommendations in the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Right to Read inquiry report, the language curriculum is designed to equip all students with the solid foundational knowledge and skills necessary to achieve their full potential. Informed by proven research, this curriculum employs evidence-based approaches to systematically and explicitly teaching this knowledge and these skills. Reading and writing are emphasized in the curriculum, with a focus on language conventions necessary for clear communication; comprehension at the word, sentence, and text level when listening, reading, and viewing; and the knowledge, skills, processes, and techniques required for effective speaking, writing, and representing. Moreover, the curriculum stresses the development of critical thinking skills to enable students to understand, appreciate, and evaluate texts at a deep level and to connect them to the real world. These skills help students become reflective, critical, and independent learners and achieve academic goals.
- An effective language curriculum recognizes the diverse identities and abilities of students and their different language and cultural experiences and learning needs.
The language curriculum is founded on the principle that every student can become an effective communicator. It recognizes that students come from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, bringing unique identities, abilities, and resources to their language and literacy learning. The use of a Universal Design for Learning framework and differentiated instruction and assessment foster an environment that is inclusive and accessible, with high academic expectations for all students. The use of a tiered approach within a multi-tiered, system support model enables educators to respond to the strengths and needs of all students. More information on this approach can be found in “The Tiered Approach to Language and Literacy Instruction” subsection.
- A modern language curriculum reflects emerging technologies and their impact on communication and digital media literacy.
The language curriculum recognizes that there are additional competencies needed in new technologies. Digital media literacy and transferable skills are critical for individuals to become responsible and productive citizens. Becoming skilled at understanding, using, and creating texts in many different forms is necessary for students to succeed in the modern world.
- A comprehensive language curriculum encompasses learning across the curriculum and in the world beyond the classroom.
This curriculum organizes language and literacy learning into four strands, or broad areas of learning. The knowledge and skills described in the four strands are interdependent and complementary. Teachers are expected to plan learning that blends expectations from the four strands, to provide students with experiences that promote meaningful learning and help students recognize how literacy skills within the four strands reinforce and strengthen each other.
The study of language and the acquisition of literacy skills are not restricted to the language program. Therefore, this curriculum emphasizes the integration of language and literacy development across other subjects and disciplines. The curriculum provides examples to illustrate how teachers can achieve this goal in the classroom.