WCDSB and St. Louis launch two Nigerian language programs for Children Kindergarten to Grade 8

February 4, 2022 — The Waterloo Catholic District School Board and St. Louis Adult Learning & Continuing Education Centres are pleased to announce the start of two new International and Indigenous Language Program (IILP) schools this week. Of the thirteen languages currently being offered remotely to students Kindergarten to Grade 8, we now welcome Nigerian languages, Igbo (E-boo) and Yoruba (Yo-RU-ba) to the Saturday morning program complement.

Yoruba will begin this Saturday, February 5th.

Igbo will begin next Saturday, February 12th.

Interest and enrolment spread rapidly over the past 6 weeks to attract close to 75 children from the Igbo and Yoruba language communities into the program. Although these language schools’ new beginnings are imminent, students interested in these two languages are welcomed to enrol at any time. Learning will begin remotely from home. When Saturday morning programs can resume to in-person learning safely, classes will be moved to our new St. Francis Campus (Queens Blvd and Westmount area).


What will they learn?

For 43 years, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board has assembled numerous language communities together to provide a robust International and Indigenous Languages Program (IILP) for both Elementary and Secondary learners. Various cultural communities within Waterloo Region have offered language learning for their children, JK to Grade 8.  Learning language among children ones own age is very different. By using music, games, storytelling, interactive and educational activities as well as increased use of technology, students learn the value of using another language.

This Ministry of Education mandated funding is available to school boards who then accommodate language learning when approached by cultural communities. To start a language school, a minimum of 23 learners (JK to Grade 8) is required. Regardless of which publicly funded school children attend during the day, all students are welcome to learn any of the languages offered after school, on weekends or in summer.  Note: prior knowledge of the language is not necessary.

How to Register?

Program details about these and other Saturday morning programs may be found at https://stlouis.wcdsb.ca/programsandcourses/il/elementary/ . Registration is online.

Classes are currently offered in a learn-at-home format led by a qualified instructor hired by WCDSB, until such time as we are permitted to return to a physical classroom.


“We are excited to welcome these two Nigerian language communities to the International Languages – Elementary Program and add them to the St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education legacy in Waterloo Region. Some language schools in the Region have been in existence for over 127 years, like the Sir Casimir Gzowski Polish School, and 45 years with the local Portuguese community.”

“We are enormously proud when we help a cultural community in their efforts to preserve language and culture. WCDSB and St. Louis became ambassadors for the first Rohingya language school in the world in 2012. That legacy has been recognized and can now continue for years to come. By inviting new language communities like Igbo and Yoruba to St. Louis / WCDSB, we are demonstrating a commitment to the value of diversity, inclusion and quality education.”

~~ Susan ElNagar, Program Manager, International Languages

“When a child hears their language spoken, especially while out in the public, they instantly feel a sense of community ~ a sense of belonging. Language is an integral part of cultural identity and a shared connection to roots brings communities together.”

~~Grace Ogor, Igbo Community member

“Youth growing up in an environment with little cultural outlets need intentional opportunities like this language school to foster usage and continuity of their mother tongue. While entertainment and social media give a general appreciation for the language that otherwise may not be spoken in daily life, learning with their peers would give an avenue for personal connections. The gift of learning their mother tongue would not only keep the language alive, but also gives them the confidence to stay rooted in culture – to explore other creative expressions, beyond our imagination.”

~~Aramide Taiwo, Yoruba Community member

Quick Facts:

History of St. Louis International Languages Program:

  • History of International Languages in Ontario is 44 years old in 2021.
  • Prior to 1977, heritage language schools were delivered by various cultural and linguistic communities.
  • In July 1977, Ministry of Education introduces Heritage Language Program to be offered through Continuing Education in or through School Boards.
  • By July 1989, Heritage Language programs become MANDATED and are funded through the Ministry of Education.
  • In 1993, the program name changed from Heritage to International Languages and then International and Indigenous Language Programs
  • To date, St. Louis International and Indigenous Language Program has over 1300 children participating in language learning during the 2021-2022 school year.  Summer Programming usually sees another 400 children.

About St. Louis:

  • Established in 1986, the St. Louis Adult Learning & Continuing Education Centres have been a proud part of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board for 35 years, serving more than 260,000 adults, youth and children.
  • St. Louis focuses on supporting adults and youth to complete their OSSD, upgrade for post-secondary, or learn an employable skill; help newcomers to learn or improve English; and offers many after-school, weekend and summer learning options for children.
  • Over the last 15-20 years, more than 2,800 students have graduated from St. Louis’ award-winning, accredited certificate, apprenticeship and licensing ‘school-to-work’ programs (Culinary, Hairstyling and Personal Support Worker).

Related Links:

St. Louis Adult Learning & Continuing Education Centres  ; @StLouisWCDSB , St. Louis Facebook

Nigerians in the Region of Waterloo

Waterloo Catholic District School Board

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board, representing more than 96,000 Catholic school supporters, operates 48 schools and five adult education facilities serving more than 40,000 elementary, secondary and continuing education students in Waterloo Region – continuing a 185-year tradition of quality, inclusive, faith-based education. Follow us on Twitter: @WCDSBNewswire – #WCDSBAwesome.