English Language Arts General Outcomes 8 and 9 (2000)

Clear student learning outcomes and high learning standards in the program of studies are designed to prepare students for present and future language requirements. Changes in society and technology have affected, and will continue to affect, the ways in which people use language to think, to communicate and to learn. Students must be prepared to meet new literacy demands in Canada and the international community. The ability to use language effectively enhances student opportunities to experience personal satisfaction and to become responsible, contributing citizens and lifelong learners.

The Importance of Language

The Nature of Language

Language is the basis of all communication and the primary instrument of thought. Composed of interrelated and rule-governed symbol systems, language is a social and uniquely human means of exploring and communicating meaning. As well as being a defining feature of culture, language is an unmistakable mark of personal identity and is essential for forming interpersonal relationships, extending experiences, reflecting on thought and action, and contributing to society.

Language Acquisition and Development

Language learning is an active process that begins at birth and continues throughout life. Children learn language as they use it to communicate their thoughts, feelings and experiences; establish relationships with family members and friends; and strive to make sense and order of their world. They may come to school speaking more than one language or learn another language in school. It is important to respect and build upon a child’s first language. Experience in one language will benefit the learning of other languages.

In their early years, children develop language informally. Long before they understand explicit language rules and conventions, children reproduce the language they hear, and use language to construct and to convey new meaning in unique ways. Later, language learning occurs in specific contexts for specific purposes, such as learning about a specific subject, participating in the community, and pursuing work and leisure activities.

Language development is continuous and recursive throughout a student’s life. Students enhance their language abilities by using what they know in new and more complex contexts and with increasing sophistication. They reflect on and use prior knowledge to extend and enhance their language and understanding. By learning and incorporating new language structures into their repertoire and using them in a variety of contexts, students develop language fluency and proficiency. Positive learning experiences enable students to leave school with a desire to continue to extend their knowledge, skills and interests.

Language Learning: A Shared Responsibility

Responsibility for language learning is shared by students, parents, teachers and the community. Students require ongoing opportunities to use language in its many forms. Opportunities to learn language occur first at home and are extended as children move into the larger community. Schools provide environments where students develop language knowledge, skills and strategies to achieve academic, personal and social goals.

Language development is the responsibility of all teachers. For example, subject area teachers teach the specialized language and forms of each subject. English language arts teachers; however, have a special role because of their focus on language, its forms and functions. They help students develop and apply strategies for comprehending, composing and responding in a variety of situations.

Thinking and Learning through Language

Thinking, learning and language are interrelated. From Kindergarten to Grade 12, students use language to make sense of and bring order to their world. They use language to examine new experiences and knowledge in relation to their prior knowledge, experiences and beliefs. They make connections, anticipate possibilities, reflect upon ideas and determine courses of action. Language enables students to play an active role in various communities of learners within and beyond the classroom. As students speak, write and represent, they also listen to, read about and view the ideas and experiences of others. Critical and creative thinking and learning through language occur when students reflect, speculate, create, analyze and synthesize. In addition, language facilitates student development of metacognitive awareness; that is, it enables them to reflect on and control their own thinking and learning processes. Language helps students develop an awareness of the skills and strategies they need to complete learning tasks successfully and to communicate about themselves as learners.

English Language Arts

The aim of English language arts is to enable each student to understand and appreciate language, and to use it confidently and competently in a variety of situations for communication, personal satisfaction and learning.

Students become confident and competent users of all six language arts through many opportunities to listen and speak, read and write, and view and represent in a variety of combinations and relevant contexts. All the language arts are interrelated and interdependent; facility in one strengthens and supports the others. In the outcomes of the program of studies, the six language arts are integrated.

Listening and Speaking

Oral language is the foundation of literacy. Through listening and speaking, people communicate thoughts, feelings, experiences, information and opinions, and learn to understand themselves and others. Oral language carries a community’s stories, values, beliefs and traditions. Listening and speaking enable students to explore ideas and concepts, as well as to understand and organize their experiences and knowledge. They use oral language to learn, solve problems and reach goals. To become discerning, lifelong learners, students at all grades need to develop fluency and confidence in their oral language abilities. They benefit from many opportunities to listen and speak both informally and formally for a variety of purposes.

Reading and Writing

Reading and writing are powerful means of communicating and learning. They enable students to extend their knowledge and use of language, increase their understanding of themselves and others, and experience enjoyment and personal satisfaction.

Reading provides students with a means of accessing the ideas, views and experiences of others. By using effective reading skills and strategies, students construct meaning and develop thoughtful and critical interpretations of a variety of texts. Writing enables students to explore, shape and clarify their thoughts, and to communicate them to others. By using effective writing strategies, they discover and refine ideas and compose and revise with increasing confidence and skill.

Viewing and Representing

Viewing and representing are integral parts of contemporary life. These skills allow students to understand the ways in which images and language may be used to convey ideas, values and beliefs.

Viewing is an active process of attending to and comprehending such visual media as television, advertising images, films, diagrams, symbols, photographs, videos, drama, drawings, sculpture and paintings. Viewing enables students to acquire information and to appreciate the ideas and experiences of others. Many of the comprehension processes involved in reading, such as previewing, predicting and making inferences, may also be used in viewing. Representing enables students to communicate information and ideas through a variety of media, such as video presentations, posters, diagrams, charts, symbols, visual art, drama, mime and models.


In today’s technological society, people access information and find enjoyment in print, as well as other language forms. For example, oral communication and visual media are becoming increasingly important. Often these forms are used in combination with one another and in conjunction with print. Therefore, texts refer not only to print but also to oral and visual forms that can be discussed, studied and analyzed. In addition, texts are affected and influenced by how they are transmitted, whether by computer, television, radio or book. Students need knowledge, skills and strategies in all six language arts to compose, comprehend and respond to such texts. Oral texts include storytelling, dialogues, speeches and conversations. Visual texts include pictures, diagrams, tableaux, mime and nonverbal communication. Combinations of oral, print or visual texts include videos, films, cartoons, drama and drum dancing.

Organization of the Program of Studies

Five general student outcomes serve as the foundation for the program of studies. General outcomes are broad statements identifying the knowledge, skills and attitudes that students are expected to demonstrate with increasing competence and confidence from Kindergarten to Grade 12. The general outcomes are interrelated and interdependent; each is to be achieved through a variety of listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and representing experiences.

Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and
represent to:

  1. explore thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences
  2. comprehend and respond personally and critically to oral, print and other media texts
  3. manage ideas and information
  4. enhance the clarity and artistry of communication
  5. respect, support and collaborate with others.

Each general learning outcome includes specific outcomes that students are to achieve by the end of each grade. Specific outcomes are categorized under headings within each of the five general outcomes. The specific outcomes state the knowledge, skills and attitudes that students are expected to demonstrate by the end of each grade.

They are relevant for all students in a variety of learning environments and are cumulative across the grades. Students are expected to demonstrate the specific outcomes for their current grade while building on and maintaining their ability to demonstrate the specific outcomes for previous grades.

It is intended that students engage in purposeful language activities that respect individual differences and emphasize the interrelated and mutually supportive nature of the general and specific outcomes.


The aim of English language arts is to enable each student to understand and appreciate language, and to use it confidently and competently in a variety of situations for communication, personal satisfaction and learning.

General Outcome 1
Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to explore thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences.
1.1 Discover and explore
1.2 Clarify and extend

General Outcome 2
Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to comprehend and respond personally and critically to oral, print and other media texts.
2.1 Use strategies and cues
2.2 Respond to texts
2.3 Understand forms, elements and techniques
2.4 Create original text

General Outcome 3
Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to manage ideas and information.
3.1 Plan and focus
3.2 Select and process
3.3 Organize, record and evaluate
3.4 Share and review

General Outcome 4
Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to enhance the clarity and artistry of communication.
4.1 Enhance and improve
4.2 Attend to conventions
4.3 Present and share

General Outcome 5
Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to respect, support and collaborate with others.
5.1 Respect others and strengthen community
5.2 Work within a group

View Curriculum Guide for English Language Arts K-9

View Illustrative Examples for ELA 8

View Illustrative Examples for ELA 9