Language Education for Newcomers in Rural Canada: Needs, Opportunities, and Innovations

Michelle Lam

Abstract


The vast majority of scholarship on the integration of newcomers to Canada takes place within the large urban centres of Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal (Shields, Türegün, & Lowe, 2014). In recent decades, however, higher numbers of immigrants are choosing to settle in rural areas for lower costs of living, local job opportunities, and quality of life (Manitoba Labour and Immigration, 2015). In addition, larger numbers of privately sponsored refugees are being sponsored into smaller towns and cities (Rural Development Institute, 2016). Finally, the Government of Canada uses immigration as an intentional strategy to grow regional centres (Burstein, 2010). These shifts mean that rural areas are seeing larger numbers of immigration, without the benefit of years of extensive research to know how these areas are uniquely positioned to welcome newcomers, and what barriers and opportunities exist for integrating newcomers in rural areas.

This article will explore the topic of newcomer integration in rural areas as it relates to language learning. Language is one aspect of integration that can promote all other aspects of integration in an intersectional (Anthias, 2008) way. As a newcomer has more language ability, they can have easier access in social integration, economic integration, cultural integration, as well as political and civic integration (Derwing & Waugh, 2012). This article will examine the existing literature on rural immigration, related theory, and the unique nature of rural areas, including common barriers and opportunities. Finally the article will explore promising practices and innovations that are being used in Canada that have potential for impact in smaller centres, practical considerations for education and teacher preparation, and a critical analysis of teacher education programs.


Keywords: Human migration; integration; language learning; settlement

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.

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