Ninety-one: Immigration to Canada
Steve: Hello Jill. Jill: Hi Steve. Steve: How are you today? Jill: Good, thank you, how are you? Steve: Not too bad. Jill: Good. Steve: You know what I thought we would do today? Do you know what I thought we would do today? Jill: I do. Steve: Oh, because I told you ahead of time. Jill: Because we were just talking about it. Steve: Alright. What we're going to do is we're going to look at The Vancouver Sun online version and we're going to talk about whatever we find there. So, I opened to the Editorial page… Jill: Maybe we should just mention what The Vancouver Sun is. Steve: That's a good idea, why don't you tell people. Jill: Probably, I guess, the most read local newspaper, I'm not sure. Steve: I would think so. Jill: Yeah. Steve: Well, The Sun and The Province . Jill: Owned by the same people. Steve: We have a monopoly almost in newspapers, but that's another subject. Yeah, The Vancouver Sun is probably the most popular newspaper in Vancouver. A lot of people also read a national newspaper like The Globe and Mail or The National Post and then they read either The Vancouver Sun or The Vancouver Province for their local news, primarily. Jill: Right. Steve: Here the editorial is entitled “Everyone Benefits when Newcomers Master an Official Language” which, right off the bat, is such an obvious statement. Well, of course, they should master the official language. Jill: And, of course, it's going to be beneficial to them and to us. Steve: And to the society; that's such a given. It's like everybody gets wet if they stay out in the rain without an umbrella, you know, it's the same. But there was a recent sort of publication of a census or the results of the census. A census, of course, is a statistical recording of what's going on in the population and it points out that between the years 2001 and 2006 one million people immigrated to Canada with the result that today nearly 1 in 5 people in Canada in 2006 were born outside the country. Now that's, first of all, not so unusual because the percentage of people born outside the country has always been between 16-17 to 20 percent, but it is higher now that it has been and people from Asia and the Middle East represent 58.3 almost 60 percent of these people. Jill: Actually, sorry to interrupt you. Steve: No, go ahead. Jill: I did hear also on the news this morning just a little blurb about how India has the most immigrants coming from one place to Vancouver. Steve: Oh really? I know that I read in a Chinese newspaper when they discovered that the immigrant numbers from India were now greater than the numbers from China that seemed to bother them. But, certainly, if you take the whole South Asian continent, you know, if you take India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and then I don't know whether Afghanistan is part of that, but if you take that area of the world that's the largest source, I would imagine. But people from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, in other words, Chinese-speaking people, would be pretty close, so those two are the two largest groups, no question. The article goes on to say that 4 out of 5 immigrants were – here's a new term – allophone.
Allophone is typically a Canadian word. It was a word that was coined in Quebec where they have English speakers and French speakers, so they have Francophones who are the majority and they have Anglophones who they would like to put back in their place and then people who are neither one nor the other are allophone. Jill: So people whose native language is not English or French. Steve: Right, that's right. In Quebec, of course, it was politically very important to count those allophones as allophones and not as Anglophones because otherwise you would make the Anglophones feel that they were more important than the Francophones would like them to feel, so this all becomes very political. In Vancouver, which is the second most popular destination after Toronto, we get a lot of these people whose mother tongue is neither English nor French. French wouldn't help them very much in Vancouver. Jill: No. Steve: Now, one recent study found that immigrants' wages lagged significantly behind those of native-born Canadians; yes. One possible reason is that some immigrants have trouble with English or French; yes. Jill: That's obvious. Steve: And it's not only that, let's face it, in any society if you're a newcomer you don't know as many people, you don't know your way around, you don't have the connections, you are at a disadvantage, but in addition to that, in all jobs employers are looking for people who can communicate well with colleagues, with customers, with suppliers. Language is very, very, important unless you're working in some kind of, you know, a technical position or as a laborer or something. Jill: Yeah, at a plant or factory or something like that then maybe it's not so important. Steve: Well, that's right, but if you're having to work as a professional, which many of these people are, you have to have good English. So, the editorial goes on that this should alert us to the importance of improving adequate language instruction for newcomers. We might need to…you know, it says here, for example, might need to…review the five-year limit on ESL funding. Students are expected to learn English within five years in contrast to French immersion students who receive support from kindergarten to grade 12. I mean that's a ridiculous comparison. Someone who comes here, goes to school in English, is surrounded by English, English on television, English in the schoolyard, that's not the same as someone who's in French immersion who sits in a classroom which is artificially in French and otherwise is totally surrounded by English. Jill: That's right. Steve: So it's different; there is no comparison. Then they go on and say that the private sector might well have to step up language training for some employees, blah, blah, blah, and it does say immigrants themselves can do much to learn English or French through the many family literacy programs available. All is not doom and gloom, immigrants have fared much better than those in most other countries, blah, blah, blah. Well, you know what I want to talk about in this here, aside from the fact that I think all those immigrants should be on LingQ, but, you know, we haven't been very successful.
We began LingQ with the idea of offering this to immigrants. I went on Chinese radio. I spoke, you know, for like a total of 26 weeks. I was on there talking in Chinese about what you need to do to learn languages and so forth and very few of those people have joined LingQ. Jill: And we offered free membership. Steve: Well, that's right, in those days. I have come to the conclusion that to improve in a language requires a tremendous amount of dedication, motivation, interest; not just a small amount, a lot. The number of people in any group who have this degree of motivation and dedication is very, very, small. Jill: And it doesn't matter whether we provide more resources or more funding and the taxpayers more, if those people don't have the desire, the willingness, the motivation to learn, it doesn't matter how many years of school we throw at them they are still not going to learn, so how is that the answer. Steve: I mean I have spoken to people who go to the immigrant adult classes, ESL classes, and they go for one or two hours a day or however many times a week, but the rest of the time they live in their own language. So, they go home, they only watch Korean or Chinese or Punjabi or whatever television-videos; they speak it with their friends, which is fine. I mean they shouldn't stop meeting their friends. But, I know personally from my experience living in Japan that if all I did was to go to school for an hour a day I would never have learned Japanese. When I was in my car I listened to English and I'm sure there are many immigrants who do this as well, by the way; we should not exaggerate. Jill: …who listen to Japanese. Steve: …who listen to English like immigrants to Canada who will make a point of listening to English radio; I'm sure there are lots who do that. All I'm saying is that I've seen so many examples of immigrants who go to these publicly-funded language classes. Sometimes they don't even show up and they want the teacher to say that they attended because they need that for their social welfare worker or whatever it is. I mean, it's just rife with abuse. I always am reminded of one thing that I was told by a company in France when we were trying to sell our system to them.
They said, you know, before we put anyone on a paid language program we give them a copy of some self-learning system and at the end of six months they have to have shown some progress. If they are not motivated enough to learn on their own through some self-learning process then we are not going to spend money on them to learn with a teacher and I think that just makes an awful lot of sense. Jill: It does make sense. That's right, the people who are motivated are going to learn whether it's free or they have to pay for it or somebody else pays for it. Why would an employer want to pay for it if the person really has no interest and isn't going to learn in the end anyway? Steve: I mean this is the other thing, you know, we always say yes, the employer should put more money into training and I think they should and I think particularly where the employee is motivated to learn, not just a language, but if an employee is motivated to learn anything, then certainly we as a company have always been willing to help our employees in any kind of a training program. But, you know, if it's a matter of English, in Vancouver where you can watch English television from morning to night, English radio, newspapers, you can go meet people, you can join the newcomers' clubs and, you know, the skiing club, there is no shortage of things that you can do if you want to. Jill: To immerse yourself in the language. Steve: And, of course, as you know, we at LingQ don't believe that this sort of formalized grammar instruction with lessons and work plans for the class and all of these things is particularly useful. What's more, if you are in a classroom with 20 people none of whom speak English very well and you're all taking turns stumbling about in the language, I mean, that's not really very effective. So, basically, what I think is that every immigrant should join LingQ. It's free, you know, where's the downside? What can go wrong? Jill: That's right. Steve: But, no, everything has to become sort of like a social project, you know. Yeah, they decided to immigrate here, they should have learned English as much as possible before coming here and once here I think the primary responsibility… Jill: …is on them; I agree. Steve: And not to be well, we need more money for this that and the other. You know, it's a bit like the whole literacy thing. Again, I think a lot of the money that goes into things like ESL for immigrants, literacy training and so forth, you appeal to people. Literacy has a bigger appeal because we say yeah, in Canada there are people who can't read. They can't get work; they can't read the safety manual at work. We need to help those people; yes, so we'll raise a bunch of money. I saw in the paper that Anne Murray or somebody else is going to contribute, so millions of dollars flow to these literacy programs, but we have a bigger problem now than we had 20 years ago. Why is that? Why is that? So maybe flowing more money at these programs may not be the solution. Jill: Right. Steve: Maybe it's at the level of the motivation of the individual, making certain facilities…I mean they can go to the library, you know, and I think audio books are great for people who have trouble reading. They can borrow audio books and read and they can join LingQ for that matter. So, I guess, yeah, that was something that caught my eye in the newspaper. It's a nice article because it's not about crime; it's not about someone being beaten up or shot or wars. I hate reading about all that type of stuff in the newspaper. Jill: I do too, it's so depressing. Steve: Yeah, so depressing. So, there you have it. Jill: I think that's sort of one of the only articles in there that isn't; one of the headlines that isn't depressing. Steve: Yeah, “Everyone Benefits when Newcomers Master an Official Language” that's a great statement, yeah. Alright, okay, everybody benefits when people go to school. Yeah, that's good. Okay Jill, we've done that one. Jill: Okay thanks, bye, bye. Steve: Okay, bye, bye.