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Ontario is continuing its efforts to end the process of streaming students as they enter high school. Starting in September 2023, the new Grade 9 English course will be taught to all students. This means that there will no longer be applied or academic courses for Grade 9 English. This is called de-streaming. This change will provide all students with the same learning experience and help prepare students for a wide variety of career pathways. This course is compulsory for all students.

In addition, the new Grade 9 English course is part of Ontario’s plan to modernize the education curriculum to ensure all students have the foundational and transferable skills they need in a rapidly changing world.  

Some key benefits include: 

  • having high expectations for all students
  • providing students with a range of skills and interests as well as the opportunity to learn together
  • increasing opportunities and helping to remove systemic barriers for Indigenous, Black and other racialized students, students who live in various socio-economic households, and students with differing abilities and special education needs
  • keeping future options open for all students (for example, going to college, university or an apprenticeship)
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About the new Grade 9 English course

The new Grade 9 English course builds on the new elementary language curriculum for Grades 1 to 8 and aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills that are essential for them to become confident communicators. It is designed to help students further develop oral communication, reading, writing and digital media literacy skills to allow students to reach their full potential.

The Grade 9 English course includes the following areas of new learning:

Foundational knowledge and skills 

  • The course emphasizes the importance of understanding the foundations of language for clear and coherent communication, and the use of critical thinking skills to allow students to experience a deep understanding of the texts they view and create.

Transferable skills 

  • Students apply the seven transferable skills throughout their language and literacy learning across all grades to help them become engaged and responsible learners. These skills are defined as: critical thinking and problem solving; innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship; self-directed learning; collaboration; communication; global citizenship and sustainability; and digital literacy.

Digital media literacy 

  • Students develop and apply digital media literacy knowledge and skills to support their learning, such as understanding how online media is used to communicate and influence audiences. They learn to navigate online environments, with appropriate permission, while managing their data, security and privacy.

Applications, connections and contributions 

  • Students apply language and literacy skills in various contexts, and make connections to the contributions of a diversity of voices, experiences and perspectives, including those of First Nations, Métis and Inuit individuals, communities and groups.
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What students will learn

The Grade 9 English course will teach students foundational language and literacy concepts and skills to prepare them for success now and in the future. Throughout the course and its areas of learning, students learn to apply their understanding with increasing sophistication.

The course is organized in four distinct but interrelated areas, with language and literacy skills being taught and assessed throughout all areas of learning.

Here are some of the knowledge and skills that students are expected to learn.

Literacy connections and applications 

Students apply transferable skills when reading, listening, viewing, writing, and speaking in various cultural, social, and linguistic contexts. They learn to explain their rights and responsibilities when interacting online, with appropriate permission, and make decisions that contribute positively to the development of their digital identity, reputation, and online communities. They also demonstrate an understanding of the historical contexts, contributions, lived experiences, and perspectives of a diversity of individuals and communities, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures, by analyzing culturally responsive and relevant texts.

This learning is applied to learning related to the other three areas of the curriculum.

Foundations of language 

Students evaluate and use listening skills and strategies before, during, and after listening to understand information and analyze the purpose and audience for speaking in formal and informal contexts. They identify and use oral and non-verbal communication strategies, including expression, gestures, and body language, and use precise and descriptive word choice, syntax, and grammar to support audience comprehension. They read a variety of complex texts fluently and read aloud with expression. They use knowledge of the meanings of words to read and spell. They also use their knowledge and understanding of sentence types and forms, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation when reading and writing.

Comprehension: Understanding and responding to texts 

Students analyze and evaluate a variety of literary and informational texts, including cultural text forms, and explain how their characteristics help communicate meaning. They explore how visuals such as images and graphics help to create, communicate, and contribute to meaning. They analyze various elements of style and literary devices and explain how they are appropriate for the text form and genre. They apply comprehension strategies and critical thinking skills to confirm and deepen their understanding of information and ideas in texts, including diverse perspectives and cultural elements represented in texts, and draw conclusions. Finally, they assess the effectiveness of the critical thinking skills they used when analyzing and evaluating texts and set goals for improvement.

Composition: Expressing ideas and creating texts 

Students write fluently and use advanced word-processing skills to create texts. They generate and develop ideas about complex topics and synthesize information and content. They create complex texts of various forms and genres, establishing an identifiable voice and using varied language, elements of style, and tone. They revise the content and edit their work to improve accuracy and style and produce final texts, selecting a variety of suitable techniques and tools, including digital design and production tools. They publish and present their texts using various media and tools.

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Support your child’s learning – tips to engage parents

Parents and family can have a huge influence on their teen’s educational success and future career choices. By showing an interest in what your teen is learning and helping them make connections to everyday events at home, in the community and beyond, you can make an important contribution to their success.

Here are some ideas for how to support your teen’s learning and help them understand how what they are learning in Grade 9 English plays a role in everyday life and in their future:

  • Be curious and show an interest in what your teen is learning. Ask questions that will encourage your teen to share their thoughts and ideas and help them make connections with the world around them.
  • Discuss news items and what is happening in your community. Help your teen evaluate what they see on social media and examine different perspectives.
  • You are your teen’s role model, so share with your teen that you too are reading, writing, speaking and listening for your own purposes.
  • Encourage your teen to enjoy a variety of media – stories, poems, graphic novels, song lyrics, magazines, comics, online content.
  • Invite your teen to share their digital design and production skills to help you, your family or your community enhance a product, such as a community newsletter.
  • Read some of the same books and materials as your teen, so you can talk about what you read and discuss your perceptions and insights.
  • If it’s available to you, speak with your teen in another language. Languages are an important part of our identity. All forms of communication, including reading and writing in another language, build skills and knowledge. Children and teens transfer their knowledge from one language to another.
  • Help your teen make connections between what they learn in school, their strengths and interests and the courses they choose to take.
  • Explore career opportunities and highlight how language and literacy play a role in your own work. Help your teen look ahead and set education and career goals.
  • Your teen’s teachers, guidance counsellor or other school staff can provide information about skills and experiences that will support your teen’s learning, future aspirations and course choices. If you have questions, contact a teacher or the school.
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How the course was developed

To develop the revised English Grade 9 course, Ontario reviewed current research and best practices from leading jurisdictions.

Research highlighted the need for explicit instruction on early reading skills, modernized content on digital literacy and the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives.

The course was also informed by feedback from education stakeholders and partners to ensure that it meets all the literacy learning requirements for supporting Ontario students.

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