Canadian Forces Language School celebrates 40th anniversary

Staff from Gatineau and St-Jean in a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Canadian Forces Language School
Staff from Gatineau and St-Jean participated in a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the Canadian Forces Language School at CFLS Detachment St-Jean on October 10, 2018. Photo: DND/CAF

Tags: |

The teaching of languages in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) dates back to a little before the end of the Second World War. The first language school began operations in Vancouver, British Columbia in January 1944, and continued until July 1946. It was then called the Canadian Army S-20 Japanese Language School.

During the next three decades, the school saw many name changes, as well as operating locations across the country. In December 1950, the school belonged to the Air Command under the name of the Russian Language School, on Victoria Island in Ottawa. In September 1955, the school was officially opened and renamed the “Tri-Services Russian Language School.” With this name, the school offered courses to all three elements of the CAF. A new course was also introduced in August 1960, for Polish attaché designates. Following the addition of this new course, the school was renamed the Joint Services Language School. As a result of the integration of the three elements in 1967, the school changed its name again, and became the Foreign Language School of the Canadian Forces.

With the development of foreign language teaching, second-language instruction in the Canadian Forces began in the 1940s, with English language courses offered in Montreal and Quebec so that French soldiers could become versatile in English. At this time, English was the predominate language used in the CAF. The first of second official language schools was opened in 1949 in Trenton, Ont. and named the Royal Canadian Air Force English School. Two years later, the school was relocated to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. Subsequently, in 1964, the teaching of the French language to officers began. When the Official Languages Act came into force in Canada in 1968, the Department of National Defence then put a lot of emphasis into promoting Canada’s two official languages.

The name, the Canadian Forces Language School, was approved and granted on March 7, 1978. Currently, the school teaches French and English to CAF members, in addition to foreign language instruction for Canadian military personnel who will be employed in embassies around the world, or as interpreters, or who will be students attending foreign Staff Colleges. The school also offers French and English language training to foreign defence students under the Military Training and Cooperation Program.

Date modified: