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ARCHIVED - Directive on Language Training and Learning Retention

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Directive on Language Training and Learning Retention

June 2006

Table of Contents

Effective date

Directive statement


Related policy


Expected results
Roles and responsibilities
Training conditions
Duration of training
Financial management

Monitoring and reporting



Definitions and Notes for the Reader


Effective date

April 1, 2004

Directive statement

Employees have access to language training to fulfil the language requirements of bilingual positions, to meet their institutions' future operational needs, or to develop their language skills in order to advance in the public service.


This directive applies to all institutions listed in Schedule I, I.1, II and IV of the Financial Administration Act.

Related policy

Institutions subject to the Official Languages Act (OLA) , except for the Senate, the House of Commons, the Library of Parliament, the Office of the Senate Ethics Officer and the Office of the Ethics Commissioner, must also refer to the Policy on Official Languages for Human Resources Management.



Deputy heads are accountable for implementing this directive in their institutions.

Expected results

Access to language training

To meet the language requirements of a position

Language training is required to meet the language requirements of a position in the following situations:

Language training must take place within the time limits prescribed by the Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order (the Exclusion Order).

An employee appointed or deployed non-imperatively to an executive position begins language training immediately and completes it before assuming the duties of the position.

In exceptional cases, and with the written approval of the institution's deputy head, an executive appointed or deployed non-imperatively could begin training later, but this must still be completed within the time limits prescribed by the Exclusion Order:

  • where the institution is facing an important and immediate operational need; or
  • in the case of an appointment or deployment in a unilingual region, if language training is not immediately available.

For other positions, it is strongly recommended that the employee begin language training before assuming the duties of the position, or as soon as possible if delays arise as a result of the availability of the courses offered by the training supplier.

For career development purposes

The institution integrates language training into career development and into its recruitment and development programs.

Training for career development purposes should be encouraged for an employee when:

  • the institution considers that the employee needs to develop or improve certain second-language skills to meet future operational needs;
  • the employee demonstrates an interest in developing language skills in order to advance his or her career in the public service.

Roles and responsibilities


  • enrols the employee in language training before the employee assumes the duties of the position in the cases of an appointment, deployment, change in language requirements or profile of position;
  • provides conditions conducive to learning, monitors the employee's progress, and provides support to an employee who is having difficulty;
  • advises an employee when it is determined, after consulting the employee and the training supplier that the employee is unlikely to achieve the training objective in the prescribed time;
  • in the case of an employee with a disability or an identified learning disability that can hinder learning of the other official language:
  • withdraws from language training any employee who, because of absenteeism, tardiness or other reasons, is impeding his or her own progress or that of others. The institution and the language trainer are required to justify the withdrawal;
  • provides working conditions conducive to the use and development of the second‑language skills of an employee returning from language training and, to that end, gives the employee all reasonable assistance, particularly by ensuring that the employee has access to the tools necessary for learning retention.


  • when language training is required by the requirements of his or her position, makes a written commitment:
    • to successfully complete the language training or, if unsuccessful, to accept after the end of the time limit prescribed in the Exclusion Order an appointment or deployment to another position for which the he or she is qualified and meets the language requirements;
    • to maintain the language proficiency level acquired, by using both official languages in his or her duties and by taking advantage of the tools available for learning retention;
  • is encouraged to report to the institution any identified disability or learning disability he or she is aware of or discovers after beginning language training;
  • is encouraged to submit a professional assessment of his or her learning disabilities to the language trainer if one is available.

Canada School of Public Service (CSPS):

  • assesses the employee's aptitude to learn and to achieve the required second‑language proficiency level;
  • provides employees with the tools necessary for learning retention.

CSPS and other language training suppliers:

  • supply language training services;
  • provide conditions conducive to learning;
  • in the case of an employee with a disability or identified learning disability that can hinder learning the other official language:
    • increase the maximum number of training hours if it is shown that the prescribed number of hours will not be enough;
    • change or adapt the aptitude assessment, the teaching methods, and other teaching approaches, as well as class size and physical environment for the teaching or testing.

Personnel Psychology Centre of the Public Service Commission:

  • assesses the employee's achievement of the required second-language proficiency level (second-language evaluation) at the end of the language training;
  • takes the necessary accommodation measures when an employee with a disability or identified learning disability reports for second-language evaluation tests.

Training conditions

Language training:

  • to meet the institution's needs or in the context of recruitment and development programs is generally taken full-time during regular working hours;
  • to further an employee's career development may also be taken during regular working hours.

Duration of training

To meet the language requirements of a position, the number of hours listed below represents the maximum number of hours of language training for each language proficiency level:

1,210 hours for level A
1,710 hours for level B
2,270 hours for level C

Financial management

  • An institution may procure language training services without charge from CSPS (in the National Capital Region restricted to language training resulting from a non‑imperative staffing action) or at its own expense from private suppliers.
  • An institution that authorizes an employee to take language training for career development purposes must comply with the Policy on Learning, Training and Development.
  • Institutions shall choose the type of language training on the basis of economy and effectiveness. The use of types of training that result in the payment of overtime or travel costs must be justified.
  • When an institution provides language training given outside regular working hours, it must comply with the employee's collective agreement. The Travel Directive may also apply when training is given outside the region where the employee works.

Monitoring and reporting

The Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada (PSHRMAC) is responsible for determining the method for assessing performance and monitoring implementation of this directive in institutions.

The Public Service Commission is responsible for monitoring the use of the Exclusion Order in federal institutions to which it applies.

CSPS is responsible for evaluating and optimizing management of its operational capabilities and reporting thereon to PSHRMAC on request.

Each institution is responsible for keeping its records and information systems up to date and assessing the attainment of results in order to report on them to PSHRMAC on request. At a minimum, the institution uses the following indicators to assess its situation:

  • number of employees who have taken language training during the year for career development purposes;
  • number of employees who have taken language training upon appointment or deployment;
  • number of employees who have taken language training to meet the language requirements of a position and:
    • have achieved the required second-language proficiency level
    • have not achieved the required second-language proficiency level
    • have been deployed to positions for which they meet the language requirements;
  • number of employees who have taken language training for learning retention;
  • number of hours of language training used:
    • for staffing purposes
    • for career development purposes;
  • costs associated with language training;
  • effectiveness of learning retention measures.

When assessment of the results reveals that the directive has not been respected, the institution reports the situation to PSHRMAC and takes appropriate corrective action.



For more information, please contact the person responsible for official languages in your institution.


Definitions and Notes for the Reader

Financial Administration Act:

Official Languages Act:   

Policy on official languages for human resources management:

Deputy Heads:

This term is equivalent to "deputy minister", "chief executive officer" or some other title denoting this level of responsibility.

Directive on the staffing of bilingual positions:

Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order:

Important and immediate operational need:

An exception to the rule that a manager undergoes language training before taking up the duties of his or her position may be considered to help the institution deal with unusual or unpredictable circumstances – for example, the need for a short-term assignment to specific duties to deal with a crisis endangering public health or safety.

Conditions conducive to learning:

For example:

  • The institution adopts values that support the equal status of the two official languages and compliance with its language obligations to the public and its employees.
  • Senior managers adopt these values and communicate them to their employees.
  • Managers ensure that employees who must meet their positions' language requirements are enrolled in language training at the beginning of their exemption periods.
  • Managers support employees who must meet their positions' language requirements. For example:
    • Employees are able to attend full-time language training when required without also having to assume the responsibilities of their positions.
    • Managers and employees respect the start dates for language courses in which employees are enrolled.
    • Employees are able to remain in language training throughout the period for which they are enrolled in language courses.
  • The institution provides employees with tools designed to maintain their language skills. Managers enable employees to take the time to use these tools.

Policy on Learning, Training and Development

Working conditions conducive to the use and development of the second language skills:

  • Supervisors make sure that employees occupying bilingual positions have access to work tools in both official languages needed to carry out their duties.
  • Supervisors encourage employees returning from language training to take advantage of opportunities to use their second official language in interactions with colleagues, and encourage the colleagues to help them develop their second language skills.
  • In designated bilingual regions, supervisors occupying  bilingual positions conduct meetings in both official languages, reminding participants of their right to use the official language of their choice.
  • Supervisors or managers discuss with employees, as applicable, the need to take courses to further develop their second language skills and give them the time they need for this purpose.
  • Employees who have undergone language training accept the responsibility to use their second official language. Further, they make efforts to maintain the necessary level of language proficiency and advise the supervisor if the work environment presents obstacles to use of the second language.

Policy on Learning, Training and Development:

Travel Directive:


Person responsible: