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A Critical Literature Review on English as a Second Language (ESL) Provision for Newcomers, Including Global Citizenship Perspectives (2021)

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November 27, 2021

This study focuses on the current state of funded ESL programming in Canada that interconnects with adult education for the economy and its relevance to supporting the integration and long-term settlement of adult Newcomers (Permanent Residents and Refugees).

This report applies the theoretical perspective of critical theory as a foundational viewpoint and the lens of social justice combined with the concept of global citizenship to look at the inequalities that exist for newcomers within the dominant ideologies that influence the current ESL curricula in Canada. Ideas and solutions to incorporate transformative learning into ESL curriculum that considers newcomer needs and perspectives are examined in a critical literature review.

Although newcomers arrive in Canada every year, systemic barriers and inadequate knowledge of social socio-political and labour market systems affect the successful integration of permanent residents and refugees into Canadian communities and life in Canada. Even though newcomers study English as a second language (ESL) for settlement and employment purposes, many find the language training inadequately prepares them for work and job retention since the ESL classes may not take into consideration student’s prior learning, transferable skills, or individual needs and goals.

In her years of work in teaching and administration with newcomer immigrants, refugees, and service providing organizations, the author has become increasingly interested in ways to incorporate transformative learning, social awareness, and employment training into my institution’s current ESL curriculum. The aim is to shift the approach from settlement to integrating permanent residents and refugees, to facilitate in the development of active citizenship and employed individuals in Canadian society.

Key findings

The key findings of the research demonstrate how ESL programming that focuses primarily on settlement tasks is not effective in addressing the necessary language components that relate to employment, which are needed to integrate skilled newcomers and refugees into the labour market. The research provides insight into different approaches and models of instruction that could be incorporated to develop content that is more relevant and useful to the current demographic of skilled newcomers and refugees.

The literature findings indicate the need for ESL programming to incorporate more relevant content that offers a greater emphasis on teaching the necessary strategic competencies, critical awareness, and socio-linguistic knowledge needed to navigate the challenges of intercultural communication in workplaces and communities.

The literature suggests that current neo-corporatist immigration is largely driven to fill employment gaps across Canada, and this necessity for skilled workers then further propels the need for ESL programming that is relevant and aligned to current immigrant policies and trends. However, the findings speculate that the current CLB theoretical framework for ESL programming has largely been used to inform language instruction that supports language outcomes related to daily routines and for immigrants to obtain citizenship.

While ESL is a tool to facilitate the integration process, it does not consider the systemic barriers that newcomers face, and the need for them to develop a sense of agency. The author proposes a student-centred approach to ESL curricula that focuses on the individual’s strengths and looks to provide the learner with the resources and insight to navigate their new social surroundings.

A Critical Literature Review on English as a Second Language (ESL) Provision for Newcomers, Including Global Citizenship Perspectives (2021)

Summary

This study focuses on the current state of funded ESL programming in Canada that interconnects with adult education for the economy and its relevance to supporting the integration and long-term settlement of adult Newcomers (Permanent Residents and Refugees).
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