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Thread: Canada to introduce language test for all immigrants

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    Super Moderator Tati's Avatar
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    Default Canada to introduce language test for all immigrants

    Lesley Ciarula Taylor, Immigration Reporter

    Think you speak English? Try this test.

    Find the grammatical (or syntactic) error in this sentence: The standard of living has increased.

    Stumped? Soon, that will count against you if you're hoping to immigrate to Canada. The rigorous language test that will be a requirement is vital to be fair to the influx of newcomers or vastly discriminatory and fatally flawed, depending on whom you talk to.

    The correct answer is: The standard of living has risen.

    The grammar questions are among the trickiest in the International English Language Testing System exam, broken into 30 minutes of listening, 15 of speaking and an hour each of reading and writing. Created at Cambridge University in England, IELTS scores from one ("essentially has no ability beyond a few isolated words") to nine ("appropriate, accurate and fluent") with a six ("generally effective despite some inaccuracies") the most common pass.

    The reading part is the hardest, most students agreed Saturday at Conestoga College in Kitchener, where 16 classrooms were filled with hope, passports and two No. 2 pencils each.

    "I think I did very well. Maybe not excellent, but very well," said Prince Okoli, originally from Onitsha, Nigeria, and now of Woodbridge, who needs to pass to study chemical engineering at the University of Alberta.

    Nineteen-year-old Abdulaziz was taking the test for the sixth time, at $250 a shot, trying to break a string of 5.5 scores to study dentistry at the University of Western Ontario. He's no fan. "This course doesn't show that we do speak English and we do understand and still we can't get the scores."

    Ghazala Zaid, 32, a dentist in Karachi, Pakistan, and now a dental hygienist in Markham hoping to go back to her profession, felt rushed at the reading but declared most of it "quite easy."

    IELTS is the standard for proving English proficiency in Britain and Australia and is already used in Canada for foreign students wanting to go to university. Canada plans, via amendments to its immigration rules, to make it the standard for everyone, no exemptions.

    Immigrants can currently take the IELTS or they can claim some proficiency and submit documents to back it up, which may turn out later to be wishful thinking.

    "Some people think it's bureaucratic nonsense," Burke Thornton, immigration program officer at the visa office in Buffalo, said of the universal test at a conference last month of immigration lawyers. But "the back and forth now" of declaring English proficiency and then having it not stand up "takes months and is contributing to the backlog. This way, there's one test, it's efficient, we move you through the queue."

    To the argument that an English don from Oxford would be insulted, he said, "Pay your $200 and you sail through. It's your commitment to living in this country."

    The cost and the "one size fits all" alarms immigration lawyers. In a letter to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canadian Bar Association called the time, money and academic rigour of the test a turnoff for people who are fluent in English and French and too hard for bricklayers and plumbers.

    "We are slamming the door on skilled tradespeople, exactly the people we're trying to bring here," said Toronto lawyer Robin Seligman, who is working to organize business owners and unions to oppose the test.

    Canada proposes to give nonstudents the general level, not the academic, in which the writing portion is simpler.

    The bar association wants exemptions, as Britain and Australia do. Their exemptions: people who have finished high school, hold a passport or have lived for 10 years or more in an English-speaking country, and university graduates in an English-speaking country. Or, they say, keep the rules but drop the pass mark for a tradesperson to an overall 4.5 ("basic competence in familiar situations, has frequent problems in understanding").

    "It seems to me to be ridiculous" to give immigrants to Canada a test created in Britain and Australia, said Janna Fox, professor in the School of Linguistics at Carleton University. Fox is also the lead developer of a made-in-Canada test used to for university entrance.

    "We don't give potential citizens an American or a German test," she said. "The government is arguing efficiency and convenience. This is a quick and dirty approach and what makes it dirty is that we are not reflecting Canada."

    Administered by the British Council and IELTS Australia, there are test centres in most countries, with 63 in India and 31 in China. Canada could quickly join forces, rather than set up a parallel system.

    The test uses British English words and spelling as well as British and Australian references. An examiner at Conestoga said Canadian examiners tend to score Portuguese speakers higher in spoken English compared with British examiners, who score Indian speakers higher. "It's all in the accent you're used to hearing."
    Toronto Stat, TheStar.com
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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    ABOUT FUCKING TIME.

    Now, before we get immigrants to do it we should run it on the people already here. Still, it would be nice to have immigrants who could speak the language
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    It is about time, now the $million$ (taxpayer's MONEY) question: how are they really going to do this... and what about the LOSER'S THEY ALREADY LET IN THE COUNTY ... What about getting rid of their welfare cheques, make them find a job, and ....become productive members of society....????????????????????????????

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    They are trying to beef up the English language requirements for Aussie migrants too, although admittedly most of our immigrants are legal - we lock up/throw out illegals, shock horror. Of course the bleeding heart civil libertarians are huffing and puffing about it but as usual the general population thinks is a great idea and long overdue.
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    Elite Member LynnieD's Avatar
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    Wow...what a novel idea. OH CANADA!

    I truly wish something to this effect would be implemented in the US, but that will never happen. Sucks.

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    They could REALLY mess with their heads and make them have a proficiency in French.

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    it's harder for immigrants to get a job than you think.. most of their credentials are useless here, which is why you get PhD's driving cabs. They need CANADIAN credentials. They're just STARTING to implement equivelancy tests so people can work in their profession here, but it's glacially slow and really embarrassing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LynnieD View Post
    Wow...what a novel idea. OH CANADA!

    I truly wish something to this effect would be implemented in the US, but that will never happen. Sucks.
    Canada has two official languages; the US has zero. We need to declare English the official language before we can submit immigrants to rigorous English exams. I think we should.

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    For the most part it's a good idea but what about those who seek asylum? Is there a time lapse between when they arrive in Canada to when they apply to 'immigrate' that would allow them to learn the lanuage? How would it work for children? What happens if you immigrate as a family but only 1 or 2 family members pass?

    I'm all for those living in Canada being required to speak at least one official language fluently (after all if any one of us moved to a foreign country we'd have to learn another language, even if English is considered more and more a 'universal' language) but do see how it could present a lot of problems.

    I don't see a problem though piggy-backing onto the British and Australian tests - they've obviously already created two versions of the test so it shouldn't be an issue to create a third one for Canada. It's not like it'll need to be translated and I do believe most Canadian words are spelled the same.

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    Asylum seekers form a tiny minority of migrants and of course they need time to learn the language and assimilate (the latter being the real problem - if migrants assimilate they will pick up the language). Kids pick up a new language very quickly at school and via TV, etc. and they don't have to take the test anyway. The test isn't difficult - it's basic English skilz
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    Elite Member tkdgirl's Avatar
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    Why and the hell doesn't the US do this!

    A government big enough to give you everything you want,
    is strong enough to take everything you have. ~Thomas Jefferson

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    Elite Member t13nif's Avatar
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    In my former career as a welfare worker, i can't tell you how many clients i had who had lived here 30+ years and didn't speak a lick of english. I won't even get started on all the deadbeats let in, or hey, how about those fuckers who are under a deportation order which according to our people in Immigration means that they have been "asked to leave Canada". Nope, no ejecting, no tracking down. In fact, let's give them welfare, cause they can't work (legally). I kid you not. Only people with an "enforceable deportation order" were denied welfare--but what difference did it make since they were already working under the table and in many cases dealing drugs in their gangs.

    Totally un-PC of course.
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    We still have to take the literacy test...though that thing is a joke, I'm amazed people fail it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tee-ha-ha View Post
    Canada has two official languages; the US has zero. We need to declare English the official language
    zero? english is not america's official language?

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    Quote Originally Posted by suhani View Post
    zero? english is not america's official language?
    English is the de facto national language. Although there is no official language at the federal level, some laws—such as U.S. naturalization requirements—standardize English.

    United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.

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