5 places to visit to practise your second language

Posted on December 11, 2017

Everyone knows that Canada has 2 official languages. And the National Capital Region is bilingual in its own right, because it includes parts of both Quebec and Ontario. I was born in Gatineau, in the Outaouais region, and I’ve lived there all my life. I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to grow up, study, work and play there. I’m also grateful that living there has allowed me to learn both official languages, as a matter of course, through the many activities the region has to offer!

There’s no better place to practise your second language than in a bilingual region. And how great is it that the National Capital Region has so many museums and historic sites! These places are ideal for refining your second language skills.

Here are 5 places that I love and that I strongly encourage you to visit to improve your second language.

In Ottawa

1. Given its central location in the heart of downtown Ottawa, along the Ottawa River, you can’t miss Parliament Hill, where you can admire the 3 Parliament buildings, true architectural gems. If you want to make the most of your visit, I recommend that you sign up for a guided tour in your second language! And since you’ll be there anyway, why not visit the Canadian War Museum, the National Gallery of Canada or the Bytown Museum, all located nearby?

2. No trip to Ottawa is complete without a visit to the ByWard Market! In the market and the surrounding area, you’ll get to experience the best of Ottawa’s city life. In addition to some 100 market stalls, you’ll find the best restaurants, along with cafés and shops of all kinds. If you’d like to sample some local flavours and see some local arts and crafts, the ByWard Market is the ideal spot! A visit to the market is the perfect opportunity to learn how to bargain in both official languages!

In Gatineau

3. With its unique exterior, the Canadian Museum of History is sure to get tourists’ attention! I had the pleasure of working there as a guide interpreter when I was a student. The experience gave me an opportunity to perfect my language skills. I encourage you to visit the museum in your second language to learn more about Canada’s rich history. In particular, I suggest travelling back in time 15,000 years with a walk through the Canadian History Hall. You’ll also want to check out the First Nations Hall, where you’ll discover the diversity and resourcefulness of Canada’s Indigenous peoples and learn about the contributions they’ve made to Canadian society.

4. Just 15 minutes from Parliament Hill, Gatineau Park is a must-visit conservation park. Its beautiful landscape extends across hundreds of square kilometres and includes a number of lakes and rivers. It’s a great place for doing all kinds of activities in winter and summer alike! For example, you can hike, camp, cycle, enjoy water sports, and go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Gatineau Park is very popular with tourists. So I recommend that you go during the week or very early on the weekend to explore some of my favourite spots: Pink Lake, the Mackenzie King Estate, King Mountain and the Champlain Lookout. And while you enjoy the stunning surroundings, have a conversation in French with your hiking, swimming or skiing companions!

On the web

5. No need to go out to access the Language Portal of Canada. This one-stop site provides Canadians with free language resources, including a wide range of writing tools, quizzes and useful links to help you improve your French or English. Visit the Portal to access Language Navigator, a powerful search engine for finding quick answers to your language and writing questions. You can also access TERMIUM Plus®, a terminology and linguistic data bank that allows you to search for the right word in French, English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Which places do you like to visit to help you practise your second language skills? Share them with us in the comments section!

Translated by Natalie Ballard, Language Portal of Canada


The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

Get to know Lucie Séguin

Lucie Séguin

Largely as a result of her strong communication skills, Lucie has become an accomplished senior manager. Before managing the division of the Translation Bureau that is in charge of the Language Portal of Canada, she served in various roles, including that of official languages champion at Library and Archives Canada.


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