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Language training programs are the key to successful settlement in Canada

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Language ability plays a crucial rule for immigrants to Canada in terms of their ability to find employment and successfully integrate into their new society. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has set up language training services for new arrivals across the country. However, it is also important to be proficient in one of Canada’s two official languages before immigration to Canada, as it is an important selection factor for many immigration categories. Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Canada Minister Jason Kenney is encouraging future immigrants to get a head start on their settlement plan by improving their proficiency in one or both of Canada’s official languages, as he says newcomers with English and French language ability are the most successful when settling in Canada.

According to a study released last week by the Maytree Foundation, a privately-funded charitable foundation that studies policy issues with respect to immigration, diversity, integration and building civic communities, language ability is the most vital component of an immigrant’s successful integration into the Canadian labour market.

“Knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages has been identified as the single most important predictor of successful labour market integration,” said Naomi Alboim, who authored the report, a year-long study of Canadian immigration policies conducted by academics, governments and immigrant settlement workers.

Language proficiency is a determining factor not only in the success of a newcomer’s ability to find a job upon arrival in Canada, but in their overall professional success as well.

“Experience has also shown that early investments in language and employment training can lead to higher earnings,” Alboim said in her report.

Minister Kenney agrees.

“Access to language training services is, for many newcomers, a first step in establishing networks and contacts so they are engaged and feel welcomed in their communities,” said Kenney.

The recent announcement by Minister Jason Kenney that Citizenship and Immigration Canada was allocating $9.5-million in funding to organizations offering language training to immigrants in the Calgary, Alberta, area highlights the Canadian government’s commitment to ensuring that newcomer’s language ability leads to their successful integration and settlement in Canada.

Funding of this kind is just one of the ways that the federal and provincial governments encourage initiatives to help immigrants learn Canada’s official languages, an essential means to their success both in the Canadian workforce and within their new social communities.

While language ability is an important qualifying factor in many Canadian Immigration programs, Kenney said that many newcomers arrive with the ability to converse in one of Canada’s official languages without being able to communicate at levels required by the Canadian workforce. This can be a major hurdle when looking for employment or simply trying to integrate into Canadian society.

Proficiency in one of Canada`s official languages is “a critical pathway to success in Canada,” Kenney said.

To that end, Citizenship and Immigration Canada funds official language training services across the country under the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. These services are offered free of charge to adult permanent residents and by schools, universities, settlement organizations and community organizations. The Ministère de l’immigration et des communautés culturelles (Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities) in Quebec administers similar language training programs throughout the province.

Since 2004, the federal government has also been supporting Enhanced Language Training (ELT) programs, which provide job-specific language training in both French and English to newcomers to Canada. In addition to language training, these programs provide immigrants with mentoring, job-placements and cultural orientation to the workplace.  While Quebec does not offer ELT programs, it does administer, with the help of educational institutions and settlement programs, similar language training accompanied by guidance on finding employment and succeeding in the workplace.

Language programs constitute a major portion of federal investment in settlement and integration programs in all provinces and territories, except for Quebec, which has a separate agreement with the Canadian government.

These initiatives are fundamental tools for newcomers, especially when looking for employment and attempting to adapt to the Canadian workforce.

Language proficiency is also an essential requirement for many immigration programs, most notably for the Federal Skilled Worker program and the Quebec Skilled Worker program. In some cases, applicants are asked to submit results of standardized language tests, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test d’évaluation du français (TEF) to demonstrate their language ability. There are many ways to prepare for tests like the IELTS examination in advance, such as online IELTS practice courses and free IELTS Practice Tests.

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