Canada is a welcoming country to immigrants. Despite the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has admitted over 340 thousand permanent residents and resettled over 30 thousand refugees, more than any country worldwide. The current population living in Canada is ageing. Therefore, immigrants play an essential role in population growth in Canada. The 2020 Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration found immigrants account for more than 80 percent of Canada’s population growth. Moreover, ￼￼Canada’s population growth will rely exclusively on immigration. Therefore, ensuring the success of newcomers is vital for the prosperity of our nation. The success of Canada is the success of immigrants.
To ensure economic and social integration, Canada has provided many tools and resources to help immigrants after arrival. For instance, Canada offers free English language courses to newcomers. Also, there are many settlement agencies to assist newcomers with accessing available language learning resources in the community. While these are necessary supports, they are not sufficient to ensure economic success for newcomers to Canada. Oneset of supports serves the needs of economic immigrants and refugees alike.
We know economic immigrants willingly decide to change their country for a better life in Canada, while refugees are forced to leave their countries unwillingly due to traumatic events. Such trauma has been shown to play an important role in the learning process. For example, how do previous mental health issues play a role in language learning and the settlement process? Additionally, what motivates newcomers to adapt successfully to a new culture or society?
In a 2018 study completed as part of my Masters degree, I found that although newcomer refugees reported more traumatic experiences, their motivation to adapt to the new Canadian culture was higher compared to immigrants. Moreover, despite popular belief, refugees had similar socio-economic status compared to Canadian-born participants. My doctoral work is a deeper exploration of the psychological, social, and academic factors at play regarding newcomers’ successful settlement in Canada.
My study explores factors related to language learning that influences newcomers’ success:
Although previous studies have examined the issues mentioned above, only a limited number of studies have been conducted on the Canadian population. The answers to these questions will help Canadian academic institutions, policymakers and community support service providers find better ways to assist newcomer refugees and economic immigrants to achieve social integration and economic success.
Ali Jasemi is pursuing a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University at the Language & Literacy lab under Dr. Alexandra Gottardo’s supervision. Ali has pursued his master’s degree in the same field, researching second language acquisition and acculturation. Ali is also affiliated with the Centre for Leading Research in Education (CLRiE) and Bilingualism Matters@Laurier Initiative.
Since 2012, Ali has also been involved in immigrant and refugee advocacy groups such as Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), COSTI immigration services and YMCA. Speaking four languages, Ali has assisted many newcomer immigrants and refugees with their resettlement process with varying responsibilities.
In addition to his studies, Ali also provides mental health rehabilitation support to individuals with traumatic brain injuries.
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