Educated immigrants do poorly in Canada – but do better if they invest in language improvement. Wow!

Highly educated immigrants are more successful in the US than in Canada, according to a recent study. Immigrants to Canada earn 50% less than native-born Canadians with similar education or training. The author of the study had this to say:

“The answer remains a bit elusive, but there are a few possible explanations that need more research. One is that there’s been a much more rapid increase in the supply of university-educated new immigrants in Canada than the U.S., so supply may be an issue. The second is language ability,” Ms. Bonikowska said.


Wow! Language skills. No kidding.

In my experience, most immigrants’ efforts at language improvement consist of attending ESL class and then going home to watch videos in their native language. The government spends $3,000 per immigrants on “settlement services” , and language training is supposedly the key component of these services. The results, obviously, are very poor.

To improve in language skills, doesn’t require hundreds of millions of dollars in “immigrant settlement”. It is just a matter of the three keys.


In my experience, immigrants from our major immigrant source countries in Asia are most motivated to learn English before they arrive. Once here, they settle into living in their own communities and mostly in their own language. You have to want to do it, and to believe you can do it, and you have to rely on yourself, not on a teacher.

Time with the language:

There is evidence in many places including the Tadoku (Japanese) or tadoku (English) program in Japan, that extensive reading and listening is the fastest way to improve language skills. Easy and inexpensive to do, but most immigrants aren’t willing to put the effort into it, or don’t realize how effective it is. It is easier to go to language classes, even if not much is achieved there.


There are many techniques for becoming more attentive to a language, or noticing. LingQ is a great place for that, but a quick visit to a book store or a little searching on the web will uncover many others. But it all starts with Attitude.


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