Improving Communication with Prospective Immigrants
Improving Communication with Prospective Immigrants
Over the years, Canada has remained to be one of the nations that offer a favorable atmosphere and environment for international immigrants. Through legal amendments such as the Immigration Act of 1976 and the recent Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of 2002, immigration has increasingly steadied in the country. Consequently, the legal changes in the Immigration Acts have provided criteria that must be affirmed by prospective immigrants in order to ensure settlement in the country. The main criterion considered for these immigrants includes reduction of professional classes regarding skilled immigration. Canada possesses sturdy ethnic diversity attributed to its expansive immigration policy. This is evidenced by the numerous ethnic groups the country possesses. By 2001, Canada had 34 ethnic classes with a minimum of 100000 members in each group. One of the main objectives defining Canada’s support of immigration is based on attracting skilled, young and multilingual individuals. This is in order to build human capital and cater for the country’s aging work force. Thus, prospective immigrants are required to possess linguistic skills in English or French, higher education and labor experience. However, various communication barriers exist that affect the immigration enforcers and the prospective immigrants. Therefore, it is important to consider the effects associated with inhibited communication among prospective immigrants.
Multiculturalism, with respect to Canada, refers to the existence and perseverance of diverse ethnic and racial minorities. These minorities identify themselves as dissimilar and consistent in remaining different. Consequently, multiculturalism is comprised of a comparatively lucid set of thoughts and ideals regarding the celebration of the diverse society in Canada. Immigration is one of the main strategies that Canada uses in order to create a multicultural society. In terms of immigration, multiculturalism refers to the procedure through which ethnic and racial minorities are supported by central authorities in order to achieve aspirations that will garner beneficial gains for the minority and the government. The year 1971 opened the platform to incorporate multiculturalism into the Canadian society. The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism recommended the integration of ethnic groups, which included non-Aborigines, non-French and non-English groups, for cultural enhancement of the country. The recommendation allowed for the integration of ethnic minorities with complete citizenship rights and fair participation in the nation’s institutional structure. Such recommendations introduced pioneering ethno cultural policies.
According to Sakamoto, Wei & Truong (2008), Canada has combined adaptation of multiculturalism policies with an array of other strategies for the development and implementation of a society that is multicultural. One of the main effects that the multiculturalism policy had on Canada was witnessed in 2006. In the mentioned year, Canada witnessed the arrival of 250000 foreigners. Surprisingly, most of the foreigners were classed in the skilled immigrants’ category. In the 1999 immigration policy, the category of skilled immigrants was one of the amendments considered. According to Wang (2007), this consideration was to allow for conformity with the postindustrial economy. Regardless, the previously mentioned postindustrial economy encouraged underutilization of the labor of the skilled immigrants. This assertion reflected on the Canadian environment in general. According to Wang (2007), underutilization of the skilled immigrants in the Canadian economy depicted an environment that strays from being immigrant friendly since two-thirds of the skills could be used in the Canadian economy. The example illustrated above provides an abstract of the negative implications that are evident on immigration. Therefore, it should be noted that these negative implications regarding immigration do not only affect the immigrant population, they also have a negative effect on the Canadian society and economy. Thus, it is important to consider the negative situations that immigrants experience in order to improve communication with them.
A language barrier refers to the complexity experienced when individuals of different languages attempt to engage in communication amongst each other. One of the main requirements that prospective immigrants are necessitated to possess is knowledge in either English or French. Regardless of an individual’s proficiency in the two languages in their respective origin, the Canadian environment provides a different perspective due to the change of environments. Typically, the immigrant’s knowledge in the two languages is not enough when he or she moves to Canada. Minimal communication takes place if none of the immigrant knows the official languages. Therefore, it is required for the immigrants to learn the languages in order to encourage communication, which is a fundamental tool in creating relationships and ties with people regardless of ethnic or racial disparities. However, one of the main disadvantages that encompass learning a new language is time. When one learns a new language at an academic level, much time is utilized in the linguistic education. Moreover, learning a new language requires utmost investment of effort. For the young immigrants, learning the Canadian official languages takes time but it does not hinder them from achieving the objective earlier than expected. However, for immigrants who migrate to the new country as adults, learning the languages becomes a burdensome procedure. This can ultimately hinder the adult immigrants into experiencing major difficulties in overcoming the linguistic barrier.
According to Cameron (2000), language has been codified into a literal sense such that it requires literal examination in purposes of education. Thus, it is important for communication since through language, communication is able to take place through various media such as television, radio, newspapers, books and other literary works. Hence, as part of communication, language is invariably important in the understanding of the ongoing events and happenings in the society. Moreover, language as part of communication encourages social interactions by covering various aspects of the societal interrelations, which include relationships in social settings. Friesen (2011) asserts that linguistic capital is important as human and social capital. Linguistic capital refers to the command of and association to language. Additionally, linguistic capital can be comprehended as a type of cultural capital. This is because it represents a method of communication and self-expression obtained from an individual’s surrounding culture. Friesen (2011) asserts that linguistic capital is important since it assists in the development of human and social capital. Human capital is defined as technical knowledge acquired from a variety of education and training fields. For knowledge in the operation of complicated machinery or mathematical knowledge are examples of human capital. Social capital, on the other hand, implies resources that are based on relationships, support, group membership and networks of influence.
Thus, in delineation, social capital is described as the cumulative of the definite or latent resources that are connected to the possession of a resilient network that comprises supplementary or less institutionalized interactions of common acquaintance and acknowledgment. Simply, social control is the anticipated shared or economic benefits got from privileged treatment and teamwork between groups and individuals. Hence, through the definitions, it is clear that linguistic capital develops both capitals since it facilitates social interactions between groups and individuals. These interactions are important in the education and passing of technical knowledge among individuals in any social setting. Hence, language contributes significantly in facilitating knowledge required in menial operations.
Most of the immigrants that travel to Canada are usually followed by their families or friends. Consequently, it is possible for the immigrants to find members of their family such as their relatives as well as acquaintances when they arrive in the country. The immigrants together with their families live together in a close-knit structure and develop their own societies. This anti-social behavior is usually to the fact that the immigrants, who are alone in a new country, do not possess any relations since every person in the country is a stranger to them. Additionally, arriving into a new country forces the immigrants to gather the people they know since they are the only persons that can guide them. As social beings, humans find it worthwhile and comforting when they get together with the people they know in unfamiliar environments. A theory that best describes this behavior is the Family Systems Theory. The Family Systems Theory asserts that persons cannot be comprehended in isolation from each other. The same social bonds that assimilate the family members are the same bonds used in describing the social bonds members of a particular group in a community possess. As social beings, humans solicit attention, support and approval from each other and consequently, provide reactions against the needs, distress and expectations of others. The connection and reaction among people make the operation of members in a particular group interdependent. From the Family Systems Theory, one is able to understand the behavior of immigrants in a different environment. Immigrants become anti-social since they do not have any connection with no one else in the different social setting aside from the people that are familiar with them.
Since they are unfamiliar with everybody else, they embark on restricting themselves to their family members. This is because the family members provide emotional satisfaction and relief. The comfort experienced in the family is usually associated to emotional interdependence, which is another aspect of the Family Systems Theory. Emotional interdependence, in this context, refers to the action in which family members depend on each other for emotional comfort and contentment. The consequence that results from such interdependence regarding immigrants is overdependence on their members and acquaintances in their new settings. As a result, the overdependence on members and the acquaintances by the immigrants causes impairment in judgment. This is because the immigrants believe the judgments of their relatives and friends as trustworthy and worthwhile to the point they cannot rely on their own sense of judgment. According to Kant (1784), being dependent on another person’s judgment is not having enlightenment for one’s own ideals and thoughts. Kant (1784) defines enlightenment as the emergence of human beings from their own self-deduced immaturity. According to Kant, immaturity is self-incurred and does not arise out of insufficient understanding. Instead, immaturity arises from the deficiency of audacity to utilize one’s wisdom, reason and intellect without the guidance of other persons. Thus, it is correct to assert that immigrants create their own communities since they are not enlightened. Instead of finding their own way into a new country, they rely on their other people to interpret and make decisions and judgments for themselves regardless of them being independent beings.
Simply put, the immigrants follow advice from others regarding their personal ways of life in which they are supposed to discover for themselves. They do not possess the enlightenment to reason and deduce for themselves. Their immaturity and uncertainty in finding their ways in their new and distinct societies force them to create their own groups. In such groups, the newcomers are typically supported by other members of the family, friends, or acquaintances who possess accommodation and other essential needs.
Lowering the Social Status
Another consequence that arises from immigration is the lowering of the person’s social status (Wang, 2007). Usually, immigrants prefer to work under stringent conditions than returning to their native countries. In Canada, immigrants accept a lower social status due to the benefits experienced in working in the country. For instance, in Canadian immigrants receive low tax deductions on their wages and salaries unlike the original inhabitants in the country. Additionally, immigrants are able to get support for their family members who are aged and disadvantaged from the Canadian government. This support comes in the form of basic social amenities such as houses, clothing and even food. Moreover, immigrants are willing to accept a lower social status because in terms of income comparison, they receive a considerable and larger income in the foreign country than what they receive in their native countries. Moreover, their social status lowers due to the amount of responsibilities they are tasked with in the foreign country. Tasks such as parental care and provision of essential needs for their families force them to avoid engaging in the achievement of professional success and thus retain the same level of status they possessed when they arrived first in Canada. Immigrants are altruistic to their family members especially their children. Therefore, to ensure that they succeed and climb the social ladder, they sacrifice their status for their family members by discarding their ostentatious commodities in order to provide for their family. However, social status plays a fundamental role in the role of the immigrants in the society.
Social status is one of the forms of prestige that arise regarding one’s position in social stratification of their respective society. Social stratification refers to the classification and grouping of the members of the society according to political, social and ideological dimensions. These dimensions reflect the social inequalities that members of a particular group or class in the society possess. Moreover, the inequalities represent the tangible and intangible resources that are unevenly distributed in the society. Therefore, the uneven distribution of resources in the society creates inequality whereby members of a particular group or social class are able to acquire them at the expense of those who are unable to obtain the resources. This creates conflict between the different classes in the society due to the scarcity and uneven distribution of resources. The scarcity of the resources leads to members of the society conflicting in a struggle to acquire resources that are important and acceptable to their wellbeing and the society respectively. According to Bernays (1928), the political powers are unseen mechanisms that control society by emulating greed and providing the resources for themselves. This assertion by Bernays further denotes the cause of conflict in the society. The Canadian environment also plays a role in reducing social status for immigrants. For instance, engineers who are immigrant require an accreditation in Professional Engineering (PEng) because it is a legal requirement. This accreditation comes off as a surprise to most immigrants since graduation from an engineering school is the only recognized accreditation in their native countries. Moreover, Canadian firms require the immigrants to possess Canadian experience and communication aptitudes (Friesen, 2011).
These factors solely degrade the social status of immigrants in Canada and thus do not elevate them from the increasing requirements and needs of the contemporary society. The interplay of political, social and legal dimensions serves as an inhibitor to immigrants seeking to improve their social status in the Canadian society.
The learning of the official languages in the country by immigrants is indeed beneficial to them. As previously mentioned, language enables the immigrants to facilitate communication that is beneficial since it develops human and social capital. However, learning language is not enough for the immigrants in the Canadian environment. After the considerable investment in time and effort in the learning of the languages, the immigrants require an array of social aspects or elements that will enable their smooth facilitation and integration into the Canadian society. Social aspects such as way of talking, humor, logic and thinking and dress code are some of the factors that the immigrants are required to incorporate. If these factors are not acquired by the immigrants, they result into them being expunged from the society. Thus, if the immigrants do not comprehend these social aspects, they are deemed as outcasts by the whole society (Wang, 2007). This may have deplorable effects on the immigrants. For instance, people considered outcasts in their own society eventually result into being deviant. They also lack self-motivation and self-esteem and are thus inclined to engage in deviant behavior. Social bonds can be used to explain this type of behavior in individuals that are expunged from the society. In a broad sense, social bonds refer to the elements in the society that are responsible for an individual’s conformity to society’s norms and institutions.
These social bonds comprise attachment, involvement, commitment and belief. An individual’s control over committing deviant acts is determined by the level of social bonds he or she possesses with the society. Attachment refers to the degree of values or norms a person possesses towards the respective society. Usually, attachment refers to the level of bonds individuals especially with their family members, particularly parents. If one’s attachment to their family and society is strong, then it is assumed that the degree of deviance is less and can be controlled. Involvement describes the level of participation in activities. The level of participation depicts a person’s degree of deviance. This is because a person involved considerably in activities does not have the time to engage in acts that can be harmful to him or her. Commitment refers to a person’s loyalty to legal behavior. A person highly devoted to societal values and morals is least capable of engaging in deviant behavior. Belief expresses a person’s trust in the general value system. A person who believes in the respective society’s general value system is able to control him or herself from engaging in deviant behavior since he or she does not want to break societal norms. Thus, by being deemed outcasts, immigrants are able to engage in deviant behavior because they have an insufficient attachment bond to the society.
Indeed, immigrants coming to Canada face various tribulations that are inhibit from improving their statuses in the Canadian society. In terms of communication, it has been deduced that they are various factors that collectively contribute to the hindrances of the improving of communication between immigrants and the Canadian natives. These factors are not only limited to the barriers induced by language. They also include that are incurred by the social conditions produced by the society itself and the immigrant as well. Factors such as acceptability in the society, social status and anti-social behaviors that result in the creation of particular ethnic communities are also accredited as hindrances that subsequently lead to the degradation of communication with prospective immigrants. In order to ensure that communication with prospective immigrants is improved, it is important for the Canadian government to consider the various factors. By considering the factors, the Canadian government will be able to provide adequate and meaningful strategies that will enable immigrants and natives in the country to communicate effectively and efficiently.
Bernays, E. L. (1928). Propaganda. New York: H. Liveright.
Cameron, D. (2000). Good to talk? Living and working in a communication culture. London: Sage Publications.
Friesen, M. R. (August 01, 2011). Immigrants’ integration and career development in the professional engineering workplace in the context of social and cultural capital. Engineering Studies, 3, 2, 79-100.
Kant, I. (September 30, 1784). What is Enlightenment? The critique of judgment. Art of Art History, 70-96. Konisberg: Prussia.
Sakamoto, I., Wei, Y., & Truong, L. (December 01, 2008). How do organizations and social policies ‘acculturate’ to immigrants? Accommodating skilled immigrants in Canada. American Journal of Community Psychology, 42, 343-354.
Wang, L. (2007). Access to professional communities of practice: Communication and cultural barriers in highly qualified immigrant professionals in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada.