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The Strands in the Language Curriculum

The expectations in the language curriculum are organized into four distinct but related strands:

  • A. Literacy Connections and Applications
  • B. Foundations of Language
  • C. Comprehension: Understanding and Responding to Texts
  • D. Composition: Expressing Ideas and Creating Texts

The program in all grades is designed to ensure that students build solid foundations in language and literacy, develop their analytical and critical thinking skills, and reflect on their learning. Acquiring the knowledge and skills described in the expectations in the four strands of the language curriculum will enable students to understand, respond to, appreciate, and create a full range of texts, including digital and media texts.

Strand A is an overarching strand that focuses on literacy connections and applications that will enable students to transfer skills and draw on knowledge from each of the other strands, other subjects, and wider contexts. In strands B through D, students integrate Strand A expectations as they develop and apply their understanding of strand-specific concepts. The chart below illustrates the relationships among all four strands of this curriculum.

This diagram represents the relationships between the four strands in the English curriculum In a box at the top is Strand A. Literacy Connections and Applications, with a bracket below it that arches over the other three strands lettered B, C, and D. Strand A is an overarching strand and the learning related to the expectations in Strand A occurs in the context of learning related to the other three strands. 
Strand B. Foundations of Language is in a box immediately below Strand A, indicating that it is central to all literacy learning. Below Strand B and parallel to one another are the two strands that represent the receptive and expressive categories of communication. On the left is Strand C. Comprehension: Understanding and Responding to Texts, and on the right is Strand D. Composition: Expressing Ideas and Creating Texts. The strand B, C, and D boxes are connected to one another with circular arrows indicating that the concepts and skills in the three strands are related and mutually support each other.
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Strand A focuses on transferable skills, digital media literacy, and cross-curricular and integrated learning. Students develop an understanding of diverse identities, experiences, perspectives, histories, and contributions, including those of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals, communities, groups, and nations. They develop this knowledge and these skills while reading, listening to, and viewing culturally diverse texts, including digital and media texts, and while writing, speaking, and representing to demonstrate their learning. In all grades, the learning related to this strand takes place in the context of strands B, C, and D, and it should be assessed and evaluated within these contexts.

Students apply the seven transferable skills – critical thinking and problem solving; innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship; self-directed learning; collaboration; communication; global citizenship and sustainability; and digital literacy – throughout their language and literacy learning. These skills help students develop and express their unique voices and take ownership of and engage in their learning in meaningful, authentic ways.

Students develop and apply digital media literacy knowledge and skills to support their learning. They learn about their rights and responsibilities when interacting online and developing their digital identity, learn to navigate online environments while managing their data, security, and privacy, including seeking appropriate permission, and use digital and media tools to evaluate information and demonstrate their learning. They learn and apply the conventions and techniques of digital and media texts and analyze the relationship between text forms and content, audiences, and creators. They use digital and media tools in the design process to develop innovative solutions. Students learn how to interact and contribute to an empathetic, respectful, and inclusive online community.

Students learn how to develop and apply their language and literacy knowledge and skills in their daily lives and in cross-curricular and integrated learning contexts. As they explore the concepts of identity, self, and sense of belonging and the lived experiences of a diversity of individuals within various communities, including those in Canada, they can further develop an understanding of their own unique identities. By analyzing themes in texts of various forms from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit individuals, communities, groups, and nations, students can also develop their understanding of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit identities, perspectives, relationships, legacies, and ways of knowing, being, and doing.

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In this strand, students acquire knowledge and skills relating to the foundations of language. The focus is on oral and non-verbal communication, word reading and spelling, morphology, vocabulary, fluency, and language conventions. Students develop competence in these building blocks of communication.

Oral and non-verbal communication are foundational components of language skills. Over the years, students develop their listening and speaking abilities using a variety of strategies and skills, including word choice and syntax, to become effective communicators.

In the early grades, students learn the beginning skills of word reading and spelling. These include learning how to blend phonemes together to make up simple words and to segment words into phonemes. This also includes learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences, and “sounding out” by blending to read words and segmenting to spell words. In this way, phonemic awareness is largely learned and practiced within the context of learning to read and spell words. Students learn to read by applying knowledge of phonics, orthography, and morphology.  

Throughout the grades, students continue to build and apply phonemic, phonics, orthographic, morphological, and vocabulary knowledge to develop their spelling skills.

Students learn to understand and apply language conventions: syntax and sentence structure, parts of speech, capitalization, and punctuation. In the contexts of oral communication and writing to communicate meaning, students are continually learning these language conventions and applying their knowledge and skills. They are becoming increasingly fluent readers and writers, which contributes to their comprehension and written expression.

The Strand B Learning Continua

Strand B has two associated learning continua. The “Language Foundations Continuum for Reading and Writing, Grades 1–4, Overall Expectation B2” in Appendix A provides an elaboration of the mandatory learning. It describes the progression of foundational language knowledge and skills appropriate for students in Ontario and is informed by evidence-based research on reading and language development. It groups the progression of knowledge and skills in larger ordered sequences, beginning with basic concepts and progressing to more complex concepts. The instruction of specific knowledge and skills within a grade is informed by ongoing assessment data. The “Language Conventions Continuum for Reading and Writing, Grades 1–9, Overall Expectation B3” in Appendix B describes the progression of mandatory knowledge and skills from Grades 1 to 9.

The two continua show the progression of knowledge and skills in the following areas:

Language Foundations

  • phonemic awareness
  • alphabetic knowledge
  • phonics: grapheme-phoneme correspondence
  • word-level reading and spelling: using phonics knowledge
  • word-level reading and spelling: using orthographic knowledge
  • word-level reading and spelling: using morphological knowledge
  • vocabulary
  • reading fluency: accuracy, rate, and prosody

Language Conventions

  • syntax and sentence structure
  • grammar
  • capitalization and punctuation
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In this strand, students integrate components of word-, sentence-, and text-level comprehension as they develop comprehension strategies, apply critical thinking skills to deepen their understanding of texts, and respond to increasingly complex texts.

As they read texts, students apply foundational knowledge and skills and draw on their vocabulary and background knowledge. They integrate their developing knowledge of sentence structures, patterns, and grammar to understand complex structures in individual sentences. They apply their understanding of cohesive ties to integrate information within and across sentences in order to understand texts. They learn about the patterns, features, and elements of style associated with various text forms and genres, including digital, media, and cultural texts. They read, listen to, and view texts by creators with diverse identities, perspectives, and experiences, including diverse First Nations, Métis, and Inuit creators.

Students develop comprehension strategies, drawing on their prior knowledge, visualizing to construct mental models of texts, making and confirming predictions, and monitoring their comprehension by asking questions and rereading.

Students analyze various literary and informational texts to gain an understanding of how literary devices are used by text creators to convey meaning. They make inferences using explicit and implicit evidence in texts. They identify main ideas and sequence relevant information, compare and contrast, draw conclusions, establish connections between the ideas expressed in various texts, and synthesize information from texts. They apply critical thinking skills to identify explicit and implicit perspectives and consider how cultural elements and the identities of the creators are reflected in texts. They develop an understanding of various creators’ approaches to diversity and inclusion in their texts. Throughout the grades, students learn to reflect on their learning.

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In this strand, students apply their knowledge of oral language and learn to express ideas and create texts in various media, forms, and genres. Throughout the iterative text writing and creation process, students develop the skills to plan, research, draft, revise, edit, proofread, publish, and share their texts.

Students learn printing, cursive, and word-processing skills. They learn to consider their purpose and audience as they choose appropriate forms, genres, and media to create texts and to address various topics of interest, including topics connected to their lived experiences. They use effective and appropriate language to establish their voice, point of view, and perspectives, and to convey their intended message. They apply their knowledge of language conventions in their writing and use text patterns, features, and stylistic elements to express their ideas clearly and coherently and to achieve the intended effects.

Across the grades, students learn to research and gather information. They develop the ability to verify the reliability of sources and evaluate the currency, quality, bias, and accuracy of information. They learn how to appropriately acknowledge the works of others using accepted forms of documentation.

Throughout the process of creating texts, students apply transferable skills and digital media literacy, seek feedback from others, critically analyze their own texts, reflect on their use of techniques, tools, and technology, and consider how to improve as text creators. They develop the competencies and confidence to express ideas and communicate clearly and effectively using written language.