Official-Languages Programs: 35th Anniversary of the Language Assistant Program


Quebec City, August 27, 2008 -- The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) is proud to mark the 35th anniversary of the Language Assistant Program. The Honourable Kelly Lamrock, Minister of Education for New Brunswick and Chair of CMEC, told a gathering of some 215 language assistants attending a pan-Canadian training session in Quebec City: “I am pleased to be here with so many young people from all parts of Canada to celebrate the anniversary of this program, which has given so many Canadians an enriching cultural and linguistic experience over the years.”

The language assistant program (Odyssey, which offers full-time employment, and Accent, which offers part-time employment) aims to promote Canada's two official languages by giving young people the opportunity to experience the language and culture of another province or territory. Language assistants are assigned to elementary, secondary, or postsecondary institutions, where they help second-language or French-first-language teachers or instructors create linguistic and cultural activities for students in the language being taught.

Minister Lamrock added: “The official-languages programs demonstrate how much importance provinces and territories attach to learning both official languages. These initiatives will ensure the future of Canada's linguistic duality and unite francophones and anglophones from across the country.”

The four official-languages programs — Explore (1971), Accent (1973), Odyssey (1977), and Destination Clic (1977) — were created jointly by the federal government and CMEC to encourage young people from across Canada to learn both official languages. The programs are funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage and coordinated by CMEC at the pan-Canadian level, while the provinces and territories assume the costs of their decentralized administration.

Over 250,000 young Canadians have taken part in the official-languages programs since their inception, including some 32,000 in Odyssey and Accent. The programs have helped enhance the quality of second-language instruction for many Canadians and will continue to provide young people from across the country with opportunities to deepen their appreciation of linguistic and cultural realities in other regions of Canada.

CMEC is an intergovernmental body composed of the ministers responsible for elementary-secondary and advanced education from the provinces and territories. Through CMEC, ministers share information and undertake projects in areas of mutual interest and concern.

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Tamara Davis
Coordinator, Communications
Tel.: (416) 804-6548
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