Many Immigrant Students Lack English skills, but Achieve Comparable GPAs

Source: Seneca College via Academica

What role does an immigrant’s region of origin and English language proficiency have on their academic and employment outcomes? This is the question that researchers at Seneca College’s Centre for Research in Student Mobility explore in a new report. The study followed the pathways of 18,466 students (non-international) who entered Seneca College between 2010 and 2014 within five years of leaving an Ontario high school. The study found that Seneca students who were born outside of Canada were more likely than their Canadian-born peers to have highly educated parents, live in lower-income neighbourhoods, and to aspire to university. Despite having attended an ON high school, many immigrants come to Seneca with weak English-language skills requiring support in language proficiency, with 59% being placed below college level English, compared to 36% of Canadian born students. Despite this, however, these students achieve similar overall GPAs and graduation rates.

Fanshawe College Opens English Language Centre

Source: Fanshawe College via Academica

Fanshawe College has officially opened its new English Language Institute, a centre that will gather together the college’s various English as a Second Language initiatives and become home to the college’s new flagship program, English for Academic Purposes. The college reports that this full-time, intensive program will help international and domestic students prepare for further academic study, and will also be recognized by Western University and  its affiliated colleges. “Through the English Language Institute, Fanshawe will continue to offer enhanced English language training and support that empowers International students, newcomers to Canada, and non-English fluent students to succeed in post-secondary studies,” said Gary Lima, Senior Vice-President, Academic Services at Fanshawe.

Canada Student Visa Policy Changes Worry NS Language Schools

Source: CBC via Academica

A recent change to international student visa requirements has caused concern among Nova Scotia’s English language schools, reports CBC. Introduced in July, the new legislative changes require international students in Canada to obtain a second visa before moving from secondary to postsecondary school. “What happened before the changes is students could apply for language training and university training and receive one study permit to cover the whole of the time that they were going to be in Canada,” says Sheila Nunn, president of East Coast School of Languages in Halifax. “This gave them the confidence that they knew that they would go on to the university, they didn’t have to apply for any other paperwork.” Nunn adds that the new regulations might jeopardize pathways programs currently established at NS universities.

Universities Should Make Better Use of Campus Radio

Source: University Affairs via Academica

An article in University Affairs suggests that some Canadian universities may not be taking full advantage of their campus radio stations. Benjamin Miller argues that radio can offer universities strategic and pedagogic benefits, being an especially useful tool for appealing to new immigrants and international students. Many campus stations broadcast content that is in neither French nor English, quickly reaching a diverse audience. Universities can also use their radio stations to develop their campus identity, interacting with their communities and providing a platform to share the work of different departments. Professors, for instance, might broadcast course-related podcasts or develop class projects that incorporate radio as a multimedia element. “Campus radio is a strategic asset for reaching out to thousands of potential students across Canada. It is a wonderful part of university life, and universities can only benefit by using it better,” writes Miller.

Language Skills Prevent Skilled Immigrants from Realizing Economic Potential

Source: Vancouver Sun via Academica | January 20, 2015

In a piece for the Vancouver Sun, columnist Don Cayo calls on Canada to do more to help immigrants develop their English and French language skills. Cayo says that while many immigrants to Canada are highly educated, they must often settle for lesser jobs and smaller paycheques because of difficulty communicating in one or both of the country’s official languages. Cayo cites research from scholars at the University of Waterloo and Princeton University that suggests that “linguistic proximity”—the degree of similarity between an immigrant’s mother tongue and one or both of Canada’s official languages—bears a relationship to an individual’s ability to get a better job in Canada. Language difficulties, Cayo says, prevent immigrants from reaching their professional and economic potential in Canada, and inhibit them from contributing to the broader economy. Cayo goes on to suggest that improving language skills is essential in the face of a looming shortage of skilled, articulate, and well-educated workers.

Canadian Schools Partner and Lower Language Requirements to Attract Foreign Students

Source: Globe & Mail via Academica | Aug 14, 2014

Canadian PSE institutions have begun to loosen standards around English-language proficiency in order to attract more foreign students, reports the Globe and Mail. The move is usually part of a partnership between a school board and university or college, as in the case of the Limestone District School Board in Kingston, Ontario, which has partnered with Queen’s University. Queen’s pays part of the board’s recruitment costs, and students are conditionally accepted into the arts and science faculty at Queen’s, with reduced requirements for English-language proficiency. The Toronto District School Board says it is negotiating a similar partnership with the University of Toronto, where the language proficiency exam requirement would be waived for foreign students that have attended 2 years of high school in one of the board’s schools. Many schools at both the secondary and PSE level have begun to recruit heavily in international markets to offset a declining youth demographic. The Vancouver School Board currently has more than 1,300 foreign students attending its schools, with total revenue from foreign student tuition expected to reach $20 M this upcoming year.

IELTS tops the list

PRNewswire, Cairo, March 2011

The International English Language Testing System, commonly known as IELTS, made its way to the top in the list of World’s most popular high stakes English Language tests. A record breaking 1.5 million tests were taken around the world in 2010 with the increase in the number of tests taken year-after-year since 1995. North America experienced the largest growth over the year followed by Philippines and Hong Kong. China, Australia and India continue to retain their positions as the largest markets for IELTS.

IELTS provides a reliable measure of a candidate’s ability across the four skills of listening, reading, writing and speaking. Candidates mainly take IELTS in pursuit of entry into an academic institution or immigration processes, mainly to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. IELTS is jointly owned by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and the University of Cambridge (Examinations ESOL).