Reading ESL stories and readings in English for ESL learners

Discover Canada is the study guide for the Canadian citizenship test.

It is published by the Canadian government.

The Canadian Citizenship Test

According to the Canadian government about 170,000 people become new citizens of Canada every year. Permanent residents of Canada who have lived here for three out of the last four years can apply for Canadian citizenship if they have no criminal record.

If you want to apply to become a Canadian citizen and you are between the ages of 18 and 54, you must first know some English or French. You must also have some knowledge about Canada. You must write, and pass, the Canadian citizenship test. On the test there are questions about Canada’s history, symbols, geography and democratic institutions. Democratic institutions include parliament (our government) and the legal system (our laws and courts). On the citizenship test there are also questions about the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizens.

There are many ways to prepare for the test. You can take English or French classes. You might find classes where teachers help you learn about Canada. There is also a book about the citizenship test called Discover Canada that you can use. A Government of Canada website on the internet has lots of information about citizenship and immigration. The English pages of that website are here

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. You must know both French and English to become a Canadian citizen. Yes or no?

2. If you are 60 years old and you want to become a Canadian citizen you have to write the test. Yes or no?

3. There are questions about the history of Canada on the citizenship test. Yes or no?

4. If you are in jail you can still become a Canadian citizen. Yes or no?

5. There are many ways to prepare for the citizenship test. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. Every year about _______________ people become new Canadian citizens.

7. Canadian laws and courts are democratic institutions. They are part of the _____________ system.

8. You need to be able to speak and write in English or in _________________ to become a Canadian citizen.

9. The Canadian Citizenship test is a test of your _______________________ about Canada.

10. Permanent ___________________ who have lived in Canada for the past ________________ out of four years can apply.

>> Answers


Flying Over the Arctic Ocean

If you look at a map of Canada, you will find the Arctic Ocean at the northern edge. The most northern place on Earth is also here, the North Pole. The Arctic region is very cold. The Arctic Ocean is frozen in the winter. It is cold enough that even in the summer only some of the ice melts. If you are in an airplane flying over the Arctic Ocean in the summer, all you can see is ice and water.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. The Arctic Ocean is in the south part of Canada. Yes or no?

2. The Arctic Region is cold. Yes or no?

3. There is ice on the Arctic Ocean even in the summer. Yes or no?

>> Answers

Loonies and Twonies

The Canadian one dollar coin has a picture of a loon on one side and a picture of Queen Elizabeth on the other side. This coin is called a loonie. The first loonie was made in 1987. The coin has 11 sides. It is worth one dollar ($1.00).

In 1996 the twonie was introduced. It is worth two dollars ($2.00) and it made from two different colours. The coin has a picture of a polar bear on one side, and a picture of Queen Elizabeth on the other side. In 2000, at the start of the new millennium, a special twonie was made that had a picture of a mother polar bear and her two cubs.

Other special loonies and twonies have also been made. In 2002 there was a loonie to mark the 125th anniversary of Confederation and in 2005 there was a loonie with a picture of Terry Fox. In 1999 there was a twonie to mark the founding of Nunavut. There were also special loonies and twonies made in Olympic years. During the 2002 Winter Olympics there was a loonie that was used as a good luck charm for the men’s and women’s ice hockey team. Both teams won gold medals that year.

Note: twonie is also spelled toonie

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. The first loonie was made in 1996. Yes or no?

2. The twonie has a picture of a polar bear on it. Yes or no?

3. In 1999 there was a special twonie to mark the founding of Nunavut. Yes or no?

4. The loonie is worth two dollars. Yes or no?

5. The twonie is brown. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. The twonie was introduced in ________________.

7. Both loonies and twonies have a picture of _________________________________________ on them.

8. A special twonie in 2000 had a mother polar bear and ______________________________ .

9. In 2002 both of Canada's hockey teams won ____________________________ at the Olympics.

10. 2005 was the _________________ anniversary of Confederation.

>> Answers

Remembrance Day Poppies

"In Flanders fields where poppies grow", is the first line of a very famous poem, In Flanders Fields, that was written in May 1915 by John McCrae. McCrae was a Canadian soldier and medical officer when he wrote the poem during World War 1. Flanders is a region in northern Belgium. Lots of red poppies grow there in the spring. During the war poppies grew in the battlefields and cemeteries of Flanders.

In Canada the 11th of November is Remembrance Day. It marks the anniversary of the end of World War 1. On the 11th of November 1918 the Armistice was signed. The Armistice was a military agreement between Germany and the Allies to end the war. It ended the fighting. The Allies won the war.

On Remembrance Day we remember and honour the Canadian veterans who served and fought in all wars. We also remember and honour those who died fighting in war. Wearing red poppies is one way that we observe Remembrance Day. We also remember our veterans with a minute of silence at 11:00 a.m. on Remembrance Day. This is the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. There are many memorial services and ceremonies. In some ceremonies people put poppy wreaths on war memorials. The poem In Flanders Fields is often read at these ceremonies.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Remembrance Day is the 11th of November. Yes or no?

2. Germany won World War 1. Yes or no?

3. We wear yellow poppies for Remembrance Day. Yes or no?

4. We remember our veterans with a minute of silence at 11:00 a.m. on Remembrance Day. Yes or no?

5. The poem, In Flanders Fields, was written by a Canadian. Yes or no?

>> Answers
Canadian flags


 Canadian flags, by tuchodi, taken from flickr

 Government in Canada

Canada is a constitutional monarchy. We have a monarch, Queen Elizabeth of England, as our Head of State. The Queen appoints a representative, the Governor General, who acts as Head of State. It is the Governor General and not the Queen who has a role in the Canadian government. The Constitution limits the powers of the Queen and the Governor General. In fact, they have very little power. Their role is mostly symbolic and ceremonial.

Canada has three levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal. Municipal government is government at the town and city level. Next, each of the ten provinces has its own provincial government. The three territories, Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, have a territorial government. And last, there is one federal government for the country.  The federal government meets at Parliament Hill in Ottawa.  Ottawa is the capital of Canada.

In Canada we also have a parliamentary democracy. Canadians elect Members of Parliament at both the federal and provincial level. These Members of Parliament are responsible for making laws, raising money with taxes, and spending money on the services that they are responsible for.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. The Governor General of Canada is elected. Yes or no?

2. Canada has ten provincial governments. Yes or no?

3. Canada has one territorial government. Yes or no?

4. Our monarch is elected. Yes or no?

5. Canada has one federal government. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. Canada is a ________________ monarchy.

7. The role of the Queen and the Governor General is mostly _______________ and ceremonial.

8. The Governor General is the Queen's ___________________ in Canada.

9. Canada has _____________ levels of government.

10. Canada is a parliamentary ________________.

11. Canadians _________________ their Members of Parliament.

12. Governments make ______________, raise money and spend money.

>> Answers
Toronto city hall


 City Hall, Toronto, Oct. 2010

Municipal Government

Every municipality in Canada has a Town Council or a City Council as their government. These councils consist of councillors who are elected by the residents of that town or city. At the head of the council is the mayor. The mayor is also elected.  These councils meet in city halls or town halls in their municipality.

Municipal governments are responsible for local services such as garbage collection and recycling. They build and maintain libraries and community centres. They are also responsible for streets and roads in their area. They repair roads and they remove snow from the streets in the winter. Some municipal governments also look after sewage and water systems. Public transit, such as the TTC in Toronto, is also the responsibility of municipal governments. It is the job of the municipal government to look after our towns and cities.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Councillors are elected. Yes or no?

2. Municipal governments are responsible for local services. Yes or no?

3. Public transit is the responsibility of city councils. Yes or no?

4. Mayors are appointed. Yes or no?

5. Municipal governments repair roads and maintain libraries. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. Municipal governments look after local services like garbage __________________.

7. _______________ transit is also the job of municipal governments.

8. They repair roads and ___________ snow from the roads in the winter.

9. Municipal governments look after _____________ and cities.

10. Town and City ______________ consist of councillors and a mayor.

11. Some municipal governments also look after sewage and _______________ systems.

>> Answers
Ottawa, parliament buildings including the clock tower


 Federal Parliament buildings, Ottawa, Aug 2006

 

Federal Government

The federal government, or Parliament of Canada, consists of three elements. The first is the Sovereign (Queen of England) who is represented by the Governor General. The other two elements are the Senate and the House of Commons.

The House of Commons, or lower house, has 308 members who are elected by the people of Canada. The Prime Minister is the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons. The Leader of the Official Opposition is the leader of the party with the second most seats.

Each Member of Parliament is elected from each of the 308 ridings across Canada. A riding is a place or geographic area. For example, the province of Prince Edward Island is divided into four ridings. Each riding elects a Member of Parliament so there are four Members of Parliament from Prince Edward Island.

The Senate is also called the upper house. It has 105 members who are appointed by the Governor General. The Governor General appoints members to the Senate on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The federal government looks after the military and defence of the country, relations with other countries, citizenship, and immigration. It is also responsible for criminal law, the postal service, census, copyrights, trade regulations with other countries, money and banking, and transportation.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. There are 105 Members of Parliament. Yes or no?

2. The Senate is the upper house in the Canadian parliament. Yes or no?

3. The federal government is responsible for the military and the postal service. Yes or no?

4. The Prime Minister is the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons. Yes or no?

5. The Senate has 308 members. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. The Parliament of Canada consists of ________________ elements.

7. The Leader of the Official _________is the leader of the party with the second most seats in the House of Commons.

8. Each _______________ across Canada elects a Member of Parliament.

9. The Governor General appoints members to the ______________ on the advice of the ______________ Minister.

10. The Queen is ___________ by the Governor General in the Canadian Parliament.

11. The Sovereign, the Senate and the House of _____________ are all part of the Canadian Parliament.

>> Answers
election campaign signs along the side of the road





 Campaign signs (municipal election)







Federal Elections

A federal election campaign lasts at least 36 days. Election day is always on a Monday. There are 308 ridings across the country and each riding elects a Member of Parliament who sits in the House of Commons. Canadians do not vote directly for the Prime Minister because the Prime Minister is the leader of the political party with the most elected Members of Parliament. All Canadian citizens who are age 18 or older have the right to vote.

The people that want to be elected as Members of Parliament are called candidates. Most candidates belong to a political party. There are five main parties in Canada, the Green Party, the NDP (New Democratic Party), the Bloc Quebecois, the Liberals and the Conservatives.

The candidates and the political parties have to campaign to win votes. They have to persuade the voters to vote for them. One way they can do this is to buy ads in newspapers, on radio, or on TV. They can also mail ads to people in their area or they can visit people in their homes. Sometimes there are meetings where people can come and listen to the candidates talk. Candidates can also put campaign signs on front lawns or in some public places. The internet is also used. All political parties and candidates have their own websites and facebook pages.   

On election day, the candidates with the most votes are the winners. They become the new elected officials.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Candidates can mail ads to people in their riding. Yes or no?

2. Canadians vote directly for the Prime Minister. Yes or no?

3. All of the political parties have their own website. Yes or no?

4. You can see ads for political parties on TV during an election campaign. Yes or no?

5. Most candidates do not belong to a political party. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

6. There are 308 ______________ across Canada.

7. Canadian _____________ over the age of 18 can vote.

8. A person who wants to win an election is a _________________.

9. The candidate with the __________ votes wins the election.

10. During an election campaign you can see __________ on some front lawns and in some ___________ places.

11. There are ____________ main parties in Canada.

>> Answers

Answers:


The Canadian Citizenship Test

1. no, 2. no, 3. yes, 4. no, 5. yes

6. 170,000, 7. legal, 8. French, 9. knowledge, 10. residents/three

Back to the story



Flying Over the Arctic Ocean

1. no, 2. yes, 3. yes

Back to the story



Loonies and Twonies

1. no, 2. yes, 3. yes, 4. no, 5. no.

6. 1996, 7. Queen Elizabeth, 8. two cubs, 9. gold medals, 10. 125th

Back to the story



Remembrance Day Poppies

1. yes, 2. no, 3. no, 4. yes, 5. yes

Back to the story



Government in Canada

1. no, 2. yes, 3. no, 4. no, 5. yes,

6. constitutional, 7. ceremonial, 8. representative, 9. three, 10. democracy, 11. elect, 12. laws

Back to the story



Municipal Government

1. yes, 2. yes, 3. yes, 4. no, 5. yes,

6. collection, 7. Public, 8. remove, 9. towns, 10. Councils, 11. water

Back to the story



Federal Government

1. no, 2. yes, 3. yes, 4. yes, 5. no,

6. three, 7. Opposition, 8. riding, 9. Senate/Prime, 10. represented, 11. Commons

Back to the story



Federal Elections

1. yes, 2. no, 3. yes, 4. yes, 5. no,

6. riding, 7. citizens, 8. candidate, 9. most, 10. signs/public, 11. five

Back to the story