Lifelong learning is not limited merely to formal education. It also includes various forms of informal education, structured or otherwise. Just as we saw with respect to participation in adult education and training, Francophones outside Quebec are generally less likely than Anglophones to report that they participated in informal learning during the twelve months preceding the survey.
Just as indicated in the international report and the Canadian report on the IALSS, we divided in two groups the various informal learning activities listed in the survey’s basic questionnaire. Those activities carried out in contexts or during events that could be described as structured are designated as representing a structured mode of learning, whereas those that refer to independent learning, experimentation or learning through observation done either at home or in non-structured situations are designated as representing a non-structured mode of learning.19 With respect to the structured learning mode, the questionnaire included the following activities:
The differences between the language groups are sizable. For example, 36% of Quebec Anglophones report participating in guided tours, compared to 26% for Francophones. Few Quebec Francophones (13%) reported being sent around an organization to learn different aspects of it, while for Quebec Anglophones and for Francophones outside Quebec, the corresponding proportion is 23%. Outside Quebec, 28% of Anglophones reported having participated in such an activity. Lastly, Anglophones were also more likely to state that they had attended short lectures, seminars or workshops during the twelve months preceding the survey.
As regards activities associated with the non-structured mode of informal learning, the questionnaire included the following activities:
Activities associated with the non-structure mode of informal learning are much more widespread inasmuch as they have a more universal connotation (Livingston, 1999; Statistics Canada, 2005, p. 87). Just as we saw for the results on activities associated with the structured mode of informal learning, activities associated with the non-structure mode are reported more frequently by Anglophones than by Francophones (see Table 13). Many of these activities can be carried out in daily life in the home environment. Considering the less universal nature of activities associated with the structured mode of learning, it is not surprising that they are less widespread and are more closely tied to various social and economic characteristics.
An additional point to be noted is that the data confirm the interprovincial disparities observed thus far, namely the low proportion of New Brunswick Francophones who reported having participated in informal learning activities and the sizable gap observed between the language groups in that province.
A logistic regression analysis of the survey results shows that by adjusting for sex, age, education level and labour market status, the likelihood of participating in structured activities is nearly four times greater for individuals at Level 4/5 on the combined prose and document scale than for those at Level 1. Similarly, the likelihood of participating in such activities for persons at levels 3 and 2 is respectively close to three times and twice greater than for those at the lowest level. Those results are almost identical for both language groups.