Chatterbox #104 – Getting educated in Canada

A big thank you to Carlos for asking us about education in Canada! This episode is all about that very subject. Harp and Maura talk about the Canadian public school system, and outline what college and university are in Canada. They also talk about the programs you can take and the degrees you can earn. Then they share their own experiences in school all the way from kindergarten to university and beyond!


Expressions included in the learning materials

  • To take advantage of something
  • A lucky duck
  • The Canadian education system vs. the Quebec education system
  • Vice versa
  • Post-
  • The difference between university and college in Canada
  • A handful
  • To maintain a certain average
  • A PhD
  • Specialized university degrees
  • To be a baby
  • A good route
  • To go away to school
  • Never say never
  • Only time will tell

Sample transcript

Maura:            Now, today’s episode is a Chatterbox episode, and that is where we chat about all different kinds of topics. And sometimes, like today, topics suggested by our listeners.

Harp:              Yeah. Thanks again, Carlos, for the very interesting topic of education in North America.

Maura:            That’s right. Today we’re gonna be talking about education. First, we’re going to talk about primary and secondary education.

Harp:              And then we’re gonna talk about post-secondary education.

Maura:            And the last thing we’re going to do is tell you a little bit about our own experiences going to school and becoming educated people.

Harp:              That’s what we’re going to do, so let’s get started.

Maura:            OK, let’s start at the beginning, with school. When you are about four, or five, or six years old, depending where you live in Canada, you begin school.

Harp:              Yes. You start school in kindergarten.

Maura:            That’s right. And, you know, I love the word kindergarten. It’s actually a German word and English kind of stole it. But it’s the word that we use for your very first year of school.

Harp:              It’s the best year of school, I think.

Maura:            Probably the most fun and most exciting.

Harp:              So after you finish kindergarten, you move to grade 1.

Maura:            And then you just start counting up from there: grade 2, grade 3, grade 4…

Harp:              Yeah. And it depends on where you went to school, but elementary school can go from kindergarten to grade 5 or 6, or even 7 or 8. It really depends where you are in Canada.

Maura:            That’s right. Then you go to a junior high school, which could be grade 6, grade 7, grade 8, grade 9. Again, it’s really hard to say because depending where you are, the elementary school and junior schools are a little bit different.

Harp:              Yeah. You always start elementary school with kindergarten and then you move up the grades.

Maura:            That’s right. Now, after elementary school, or grade school, and if you go to junior high school, then you have high school, which, again, is different everywhere, but usually starts around grade 9 or 10 and goes up to grade 12.

Harp:              Yes. Some people go directly from elementary school to high school. And then they would start at grade 9, maybe even grade 8.

Maura:            Yeah. And this is a little bit different, because in high school, you have to get particular credits in particular subjects to qualify for a high school diploma. In elementary school, you just complete your grade every year. So high school is a little bit different because you have specific classes that you have to pass.

Harp:              Yeah. And usually when you’re in elementary school, and most of the time in junior high school, you stay with one class and you do all your subjects together. Your science, your math, English; it’s all together with the same people, with the same students. But in high school, usually you’re switching to different classes every subject.

Maura:            Right. And different teachers. So, when you’re in elementary school, for example, in grade 3, you probably have one teacher. You might have a special teacher for music, and you definitely have a special teacher for learning another language, but you basically have one teacher. In high school, every subject is taught by a different teacher.

Harp:              And things are a little bit different in Quebec, but that’ll get even more confusing, so we’ll explain that in the Learning Materials.

Maura:            Right. Quebec, which is the province that we’re in right now, has a little bit of a different school system. So become a member if you’re curious, and we will talk about how Quebec is different. Now something else that is maybe interesting and special about Canada is that… Well, first of all, we’re a bilingual country. So we have English and French schools all across the country. Even in parts of Canada where English is the majority language, there are French schools. And in the parts of Canada where French is mostly spoken, we have English schools.

english PodcastAudio/Learning Materials: Culips