The mission of the Language Centre is to allow students, when they become officers in the Canadian Armed Forces, to perform their duties adequately in both official languages. Therefore, the department is responsible for the bilingualism of officer-cadets.
Upon their arrival, students take a placement test that measures their level in their second official language. If they do not reach the level required by the curriculum of the College, they must take second language classes.
The Language Centre offers classes at all levels required to succeed; consequently, after the placement test, candidates are grouped according to their level and take classes for fifty minutes per day. Classrooms are small: they can accommodate a maximum of ten students, but groups are often smaller. Classes focus on three elements: Reading Comprehension, Written Expression and Oral Competency. All efforts are made for the students to become bilingual as quickly as possible; classes constantly foster interaction and participation from the officer-cadets.
The Centre’s courses are based on a curriculum that was designed for military personnel because they aim for a defined level of professional and functional bilingualism. However, they also incorporate a number of methods that boost the diversification of learning tools, including language applications, audiovisual media, educational games, excursions or any other method deemed relevant by the teaching personnel. Incidentally, students can visit the Resource Centre of the department where they can borrow learning material.
Furthermore, the Language Centre also offers one-on-one tutorials designed for students who are trying to catch up on their regular class or who simply want to refine their second language. Via an online registration system, they can reserve an individual fifty minute tutorial when it is convenient for them, with the instructor of their choice.
Typically, if after their second year at the College students still haven’t reached the bilingualism level required by the curriculum, they take an intensive ten week immersion summer course. This program is offered simultaneously at Canadian Forces Language School Detachment Saint-Jean and right here at the College. Students are in class for five hours per day and also have homework at the end of the day.
During this course, and subject to budget approval, the Language Centre usually puts together field trips that allow students to materialize their second language skills in real situations.
The bilingualism standard of the College is based on the exams supplied by the Canada School of Public Service. Additional information about the required level (a linguistic profile of BBB) can be found on the Canada School of Public Service Web site. Therefore, students must eventually take and pass these exams. The Language Centre will allow officer-cadets to take them at its discretion, when the teachers believe that students have reached an acceptable level of command and have a good chance of succeeding. To this effect, the department has its own evaluation tools to determine if candidates are ready for the official exams, which consist of two written online tests, and one oral competency test that is administered on the phone and is designed like an interview about professional bilingualism.
Once a student reaches the bilingualism standard of the College, he/she doesn’t have to take second language classes anymore and credits are added to his/her transcript.
Lastly, even though the Language Centre only offers courses in both official languages, if students already master a language other than French and English, the department can arrange foreign language testing in a wide variety of languages; if the students pass these tests they can acquire extra credits.
Learning a second language is an astounding endeavour, one that requires constant efforts and discipline. However, it is also an accomplishment that enhances the journey of any student because it leads to the discovery of a different perception of the world. The Language Centre allows you not only to learn a language, but also another culture. By doing so it always encourages students to be curious about all aspects of the other official language. Bilingualism is a fundamental value at the Royal Military College of Canada, and succeeding at it can only broaden the experience of all future officers in the Canadian Armed Forces.