Don Cayo: Canada needs to teach immigrants better language skills

Not too surprising, and the call for better language training makes sense. Not an issue for second generation immigrants given Canadian schooling (but who also have persistent income and unemployment gaps:

It turns out that a significant factor is not only whether an immigrant’s mother tongue is English or French, but if not, then how closely related it is to one or the other of Canada’s official languages. For example, immigrants who grow up with a Nordic language, which shares two of four linguistic roots with English, are likely to earn six per cent less than native-born Canadians, whereas the gap widens to 33 per cent for those who speak a dialect of Chinese, which has no common roots with English or French.

…But two other researchers, Ana Ferrer of University of Waterloo and Alicia Adsera of Princeton, take this a step further, looking at the link between immigrants’ economic success and what they call linguistic proximity — the degree of similarity between an immigrant’s mother tongue and one or both of Canada’s official languages.

They found that not only do immigrants from countries with languages closely related to English or French get better jobs when they come to Canada — specifically, jobs requiring social and analytical skills rather than just brawn — the difference in earning potential is magnified when the level of education is higher. In other words, a labourer will make a little less than Canadian-born co-worker, but a specialist or professional will make a lot less.

Don Cayo: Canada needs to teach immigrants better language skills.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to Don Cayo: Canada needs to teach immigrants better language skills

  1. Marion Vermeersch says:

    For many years, outside of large urban centres, community literacy programs have struggled to survive budget cuts and depend on volunteers. There are many Canadians, as well as immigrants, who face difficulties with language and literacy. Often, learning disabilities make the acquisition of basic work skills a challenge. Perhaps a national focus on literacy and language skills could be made available for anyone who needs specialized teaching in a supportive learning environment.-, accessible to their homes. if that were possible, we could be assisting immigrants and those already here but unemployed, to maximize their abilities to be able to work and contribute.

    Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2015 12:05:12 +0000 To: vermeerschmarion@hotmail.com

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