Friday, July 20, 2012

Newcomers need to learn intricacies of Canadian life: Research

Citizenship Ceremony @ MaRS 2011
Citizenship Ceremony @ MaRS 2011 (Photo credit: mars_discovery_district)

Immigrants need help learning not just Canada's two official languages, but also the "secret rules" of Canadian life in order to fit into their new home, according to the authors of a report released Thursday.

The ability to speak and read English or French is viewed as key to the economic success of newcomers, and the federal government is implementing mandatory language testing for immigrants in their country of origin and increasing the level of proficiency required. But in their report for the Institute for Research on Public Policy, Tracey Derwing and Erin Waugh looked at the role of language and cultural practices in how immigrants develop friendships, join social organizations and build networks within the mainstream.

The study, Language Skills and the Social Integration of Canada's Adult Immigrants, reviewed the federal Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) program, which is available to all permanent immigration classes until they become Canadian citizens. It also reviewed existing literature, including a Citizenship and Immigration study of language proficiency levels and a longitudinal study Derwin co-authored that has followed Mandarin and Slavic-language speakers since their arrival in Canada, assessing their accents and fluency as part of overall comprehensibility.


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