With almost half of its population being foreign-born, Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, it’s the most populous city in Canada, with over 2,731,570 residents according to the 2016 census.
As you can imagine, learning a second or even third language in such a diverse city is almost a necessity. This is particularly true if you want to connect to members of the vast number of immigrant communities in Toronto, the largest being from China, accounting for 10% of the total immigrant population, followed by the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and Italy.
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Toronto’s diversity is also reflected by the more than 200 languages spoken by city residents. The most commonly spoken at home after English are Cantonese, with more than 114,660 speakers, Mandarin, with 111,405 and Tagalog with 83,230. These are closely followed by Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Tamil.
Connecting with the local community is not the only advantage of speaking more than one language in Toronto, it will also make you more employable and expand your horizons, which in short, will improve your experience in the city dramatically.
Where to study foreign languages in Toronto
Toronto is home to some of the best universities and learning institutions in the country, so, as you can imagine, there are plenty of great places to study languages. One of the best-known is probably The University of Toronto, which offers great courses at all levels in twenty languages. Some of these are Bengali, Farsi, Arabic, Korean, Polish, Tamil and Turkish. In addition to being a perfect option for those wanting to get a certification, these programs will improve your speaking, listening, reading and writing skills and give you the confidence to apply your new abilities in the real world.
However, this is not the only option in the city. If you’re not planning on enrolling in a university course, you might want to check out some of the many available resources at Toronto Public Library. There are over a hundred branches of this library across the city, and they have thousands of books, magazines, newspapers and digital resources in many languages. What’s more, if you have a library card, you will be able to access Mango languages, an app where you can study more than 70 languages.
Language exchange groups in Toronto
If you’re looking to better your language skills while at the same time meeting new people, then attending a language exchange is one of the best things you can do. Fortunately, there are many language groups in the area that organize weekly meetings. One of the biggest is Langulife - Language + Culture Exchange, whose aim is to bring people from all over the world together to practice their language skills while at the same time sharing their cultural knowledge with others. These meetings are held every Wednesday at Firkin on Bloor, located at 81 Bloor St, and are completely free. When you get there, one of the organizers will give you flag stickers that indicate the language you speak and the one you want to learn, and after that, you’ll be paired up with a partner to start chatting right away!
Japanese learners in the area should consider going to the meetings held by Toronto Japanese Exchange (TJEX.ca). These friendly Japanese language enthusiasts provide a structured, organized language exchange between language learners and native speakers of English and Japanese. They meet at Atrium, located at 595 Bay St every Saturday. You don’t need to register for these meetings, just pay the $2 fee at the entrance and you’ll be placed in a group according to your level.
Cultural institutions and events in Toronto
As one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto is home to some of the most exciting festivals that celebrate cultures across the world. Among the most famous ones, The Toronto Caribbean Carnival, formerly known as Caribana, is a celebration of Caribbean culture and traditions. Held annually in August, it attracts thousands of visitors every year who come to see the impressive festival's final parade, an explosion of colour and creativity. Although there are Caribbean-style festivals in different parts of the world, the Carnival event in Toronto is considered the largest in the world outside of Trinidad and Tobago, which makes it extra special. It’s a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the incredible Caribbean music and watch jaw-dropping performances.
Language jobs in Toronto
Being able to communicate proficiently in more than one language will set you apart from monolingual applicants in any job interview. This is especially true in a multicultural city like Toronto, where multinationals like Accenture, Oracle and Samsung are constantly looking for bilinguals for job positions like Intelligence Officer, Customer Care Representative and Commercial Account Manager.
If you have your own business, learning languages will allow you to build professional relationships with many local immigrant communities, which will help you advance your career. What’s more, it can be the key to expanding your business abroad and getting access to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities across the globe.
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Whether you’ve decided to learn a language to improve your social life, become more employable or expand your horizons, the best place to do it is Listen & Learn! We’ll make the process of becoming multilingual much more entertaining by pairing you up with a tutor that will tailor a lesson based on your particular goals and interests. If you want to know the level of your current skills, you can take one of our free level tests so we can find the best course for you. After that, all you have to do is send us a quick inquiry so one of our members can contact you within the next 24 hours and answer all your questions.