Tighter language requirements will help immigrants and Canada
April 27, 2013. 9:59 am • Section: The Search, Immigration
It’s hard to learn a new language. An internal 2012 Immigration Canada report has revealed a rising proportion of immigrants, more than 600,000, work in Canada in a language other than English and French. And most of them, 60 per cent, say they cannot carry on a conversation in either of Canada’s official languages.
Stories regarding language barriers have become common in Canada.
The newcomer struggling to speak English who, as a result, has grave trouble trying to get a job.
The person who can’t communicate with medical staff during an emergency, making her dire situation more dangerous.
The classes filled with English-as-a-second language students; leading to concerns that teachers aren’t giving much attention to students who need to focus on other things.
The breakdowns in communication during condominium council meetings that have been called to discuss urgent costly repairs, sometimes leading to chaos and suspicion.
Such reports, whether they come from neighbours, health officials, school boards or others, illustrate how the difficulties of communicating across different languages can make it harder to build a sense of security and trust.
The Canadian government is taking heed of such stories. And it’s slowly following the lead of some European and other nations in addressing the language minefield.
Jason Kenney, minister of immigration, has been gradually increasing language-proficiency requirements for some immigrants. The changes will have a far-reaching impact.
But, first, what are Canada’s language facts?
The 2011 census discovered more than one in five Canadians, almost seven million people, speak a language other than English or French at home. The most common languages, in order, are Punjabi, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish and Tagalog.
In Metro Vancouver, the proportion of residents who don’t speak English or French at home rises to one out of three.
It has been difficult for researchers to access data on the portion of residents who cannot speak French or English, a problem acute among immigrant seniors, stay-at-homes and those functioning outside the wage system.
But an internal 2012 Immigration Canada report, obtained under Access to Information legislation, has revealed what is going on in workplaces.
The report shows a rising proportion of immigrants, more than 600,000, work in Canada in a language other than English and French.
And most of them, 60 per cent, say they cannot carry on a conversation in either of Canada’s official languages.
Article posted in Immigration, Language shift, Linguistically handicapped, Multiculturalism, Reports/Statistics/Opinions, etc.