This curriculum policy presents the compulsory Grade 9 English course, 2023 (ENL1W). This course supersedes the two Grade 9 courses outlined in The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: English, 2007. Effective September 2023, all English programs for Grade 9 will be based on the expectations outlined on this site.
The Grade 9 English course is grounded in the belief that all students can succeed when they develop knowledge and skills in language and literacy. Strong foundational knowledge and skills in both oral and written language are necessary to support more complex skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving. This curriculum provides educators with a comprehensive guide to supporting the development and consolidation these essential knowledge and skills in every student.
In addition to the considerations outlined in this curriculum context, all of the general “Program Planning” sections on this site apply to this curriculum. Educators should review and implement these general sections, as well as the components that appear below.
Literacy is essential for success: it affects all academic achievement and is associated with social, emotional, economic, and physical health. The Grade 9 English course is designed to supports students in developing and consolidating the literacy knowledge and skills they need to succeed in education and in life, and to encourage students to experience the joy and possibility that literacy learning can ignite.
Language is the basis for thinking, communicating, and learning. Students need language skills to comprehend ideas and information, to interact socially, to inquire into areas of interest and study, and to express themselves clearly and demonstrate their learning. Learning to communicate by using language with clarity and precision, and in a variety of media and modes, will help students to thrive in the world beyond school and to become lifelong learners.
Literacy skills are embedded across the Ontario curriculum, but literacy development lies at the heart of the English curriculum. The Grade 9 English course emphasizes evidence-based systematic and explicit instruction that supports students in developing and consolidating foundational knowledge and skills, including oral language, reading, writing, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. The systematic teaching of foundational knowledge, and skills is critically important and must follow a carefully planned sequence for introducing specific concepts, knowledge, and skills. It must also happen in purposeful and meaningful contexts where students are immersed in rich literacy experiences that cultivate a sense of enjoyment about learning. These experiences must be grounded in responsive teacher-student relationships.
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that strong oral communication skills are critical for academic and vocational success as well as social-emotional well-being. Oral communication is a complex set of skills that includes both oral language (i.e., listening comprehension and speaking) and non-verbal communication (e.g., body language, facial expression, gestures). In the classroom, intentional communication – using language in a purposeful way – and rich oral language experiences can help students improve their oral language skills. Giving students the opportunity to listen to a wide range of oral texts, including songs, poems, conversations, and presentations, is important. This helps students to develop their own oral language and presentation skills. Oral language skills are essential to the development of literacy, knowledge, symbolic thought, self-regulation, identity, self-advocacy, self-reflection, and lifelong learning.
Research shows that there is a strong connection between oral language development and reading comprehension and writing ability. Strong reading comprehension occurs when students derive meaning from oral language and combine it with fluency in reading words and texts. Oral language continues to impact reading proficiency as students progress through school and build a growing vocabulary. It is important to note that the process of reading acquisition will be different for students whose first or primary language is American Sign Language (ASL). For these students, ASL and English bilingual teaching methods are used for the development of biliteracy between ASL and English as a second or additional language.
The Grade 9 English course provides many opportunities for students to continue developing reading fluency and comprehension. A comprehensive and rigorous reading program teaches students to read competently and critically, and provides students with opportunities to read widely for the pleasure of reading and for the discovery of new information, as well as self-discovery and self-enrichment. Reading materials should reflect the diversity of students in the classroom and Canadian and world cultures, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures.
In the English program, students have the opportunity to read various forms of texts and to set learning goals for their reading. This helps to develop and sustain their curiosity and excitement about reading. In addition to reading teacher-selected materials that are well planned and purposefully chosen to support instructional goals, students can choose from a wide variety of texts that are engaging and relevant to their personal interests. In this way, literacy enhances students’ development of their sense of self and their unique and shared identities. It fosters a deep appreciation of the diversity of human experience and expression.
Building on the elementary language curriculum, the Grade 9 English curriculum continues to provide a strong foundation in both reading and writing, and emphasizes teaching these two different skills in an interdependent way, so that one skill reinforces and strengthens the other. The curriculum allows students to harness the power of the written word and develop higher-order literacy skills. Students learn to research, synthesize, and organize information to create literary and persuasive texts reflecting their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Reading and writing enable students to understand and tell stories about their communities, cultures, and histories, expressing their sense of global citizenship or personal commitment. Through reading and writing, students become receptive to new and varying ideas and perspectives and develop their ability to think independently and critically. They can convince and be convinced and differentiate between what is true and what is misinformation. In this way, literacy can help transform them and enable them to achieve their hopes and dreams.
Successful and confident language learners share the following characteristics:
- They display accuracy and automaticity in foundational language skills.
- They understand deeply as they listen, read, and view and speak, write, and represent, effectively and with confidence.
- They make meaningful connections between themselves, the texts they encounter, and the world around them.
- They think critically about the texts they read and create.
- They understand that all texts have a specific point of view that must be recognized, questioned, assessed, and evaluated.
- They acknowledge the cultural impact of texts and appreciate their aesthetic power.
- They use language to interact and connect with individuals and communities, for personal growth, and for active participation as global citizens.
- They recognize that language learning is a necessary, reflective, and life-enhancing process.
- They use cognitive strategies to learn from complex texts.
- They are motivated and purposeful in their learning, including learning related to their goals.
The Grade 9 English curriculum recognizes the value of embedding literacy learning across all disciplines. Students must have authentic opportunities to apply their language and literacy skills in all subject areas. The curriculum also recognizes the important role that other subject areas play in supporting the growth of students’ vocabularies and background knowledge, both of which are critical components of language comprehension. By building students’ strong foundational skills, the English curriculum enhances each student’s learning across all subject areas. This fosters a love of learning and paves the way for future success.
The Ontario English curriculum for Grade 9 is founded on the following principles:
- An effective English 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 Grade 9 English course is designed to ensure that all students continue to develop and consolidate 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 English 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. Research has shown that comprehension involves a complex interaction of multiple cognitive and linguistic skills and processes. It involves multiple layers of language processing. 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 English curriculum recognizes the diverse identities and abilities of students and their different language and cultural experiences and learning needs.
The Grade 9 English course is founded on the principle that every student can become an effective communicator. It recognizes that students come from diverse families, communities, and cultural and linguistic backgrounds, bringing unique identities, abilities, and resources to their language and literacy learning. It also emphasizes the principles and guidelines associated with the Universal Design for Learning framework and differentiated instruction to 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” section.
- A modern English curriculum reflects emerging technologies and their impact on communication and digital media literacy.
The Grade 9 English course 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 English curriculum encompasses learning across the curriculum and in the world beyond the classroom.
The Grade 9 English course 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 English 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.