English and Literacy


"Literacy is about more than reading or writing – it is about how we communicate in society. It is about social practices and relationships, about knowledge, language and culture. Those who use literacy take it for granted – but those who cannot use it are excluded from much communication in today’s world. Indeed, it is the excluded who can best appreciate the notion of “literacy as freedom”.

-UNESCO, Statement for the United Nations Literacy Decade, 2003–2012

The English curriculum is based on the belief that language learning is critical to responsible and productive citizenship, and that all students can become successful language learners. The curriculum is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills that they need to achieve this goal. It aims to help students become successful language learners.

Successful language learners:

  • understand that language learning is a necessary, life-enhancing, reflective process;
  • communicate – that is, read, listen, view, speak, write, and represent – effectively and with confidence;
  • make meaningful connections between themselves, what they encounter in texts, and the world around them;
  • think critically;
  • understand that all texts advance a particular point of view that must be recognized, questioned, assessed, and evaluated;
  • appreciate the cultural impact and aesthetic power of texts;
  • use language to interact and connect with individuals and communities, for personal growth, and for active participation as world citizens.

(Ontario Ministry of Education, The Ontario Curriculum Grades 11 and 12: English, 2007. p. 4)

Click here for a list of course offerings!

Would you like to learn more? Take a look at The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: English, 2007 (Revised) and The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 11 and 12: English, 2007 (Revised).

Literacy and the OSSLT

Literacy skills are included in the expectations for all subjects. Each subject provides opportunities for students to develop their literacy skills, often in specialized ways. We work to ensure that students know the subject-specific vocabulary and terminology needed to understand, communicate, and create in the disciplines they study.

Each year students are required to write the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT).  All students must pass this test with a minimum mark of 70% in order to graduate from high school.  Students write this test for the first time in Grade 10. 

This year EQAO plans to administer the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) online in spring 2021.

How do I find out more about the OSSLT?