The 3rd week in Canada
What main problem of new immigrants is
The majority of new immigrants say that difficulty with the language is the main problem after arriving in Canada. The Ministry of Immigration of Canada recently increased the requirements for English language skills. However, many immigrants do not pay much attention to language, not realizing that it is directly related not only to adaptation, but also to employment. Unfortunately, your confidence in the proficiency of the language is often wrong because the language requirements of employers are much higher than of the immigration officers. Without a good knowledge of the language, you cannot start a career in Canada.
What LINC is
In Canada, there are many opportunities for free language studies. If you have only basic English, it is the best during this week to apply to the free LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) service. In Toronto, this program is served by teachers of TDSB (Toronto District School Board), as well as by staff of colleges and universities. Most often, LINC will be your first step in learning English after arriving in Canada. To find addresses of LINC centres, please visit: www.cic.gc.ca/english/newcomers/map/services.asp.
In Toronto, there are three LINC centres: Head Office 20 Grosvenor Street, North York Office; 4580 Dufferin Street, 2nd Floor, and Scarborough Office10 Milner Business Court, Suite 600.
Call 416-925-5462 and make an appointment.
What the testing is for
When you go for testing, bring proof of your immigration status, address and age. People with permanent resident status (Landed Immigrant) or Refugee status are accepted in these courses. If you do not come under these categories, the free English language courses may be ESL (English as a Second Language). In the LINC office, you will be tested, which may take from one to three hours. You will be given four tests: writing, listening, speaking and reading.
You will write a little paragraph in English on a given topic, for example, "How was your first day in Canada?” Then you will talk with an instructor, for example, about your plans for the future, and, finally, read some text and answer questions on it (just select and mark the correct answers).
As a result, your level of language will be established according to the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) and you will be offered a school where you can improve your language up to level 7 CLB. This level allows you to get a job.
What the CLB is
To those readers who would like to become more closely acquainted with the system of CLB, I recommend the book Canadian Language Benchmarks 2000. You can find this book in the Toronto libraries; its code is 428.0076 CAN. Look in the library for the ESL section or just ask the librarian on duty. This book describes in detail what should you know and be able to do in all twelve levels of language provided by the CLB system. The CLB system also is described on the site www.language.ca.
Is it possible to determine your CLB level by yourself?
You can pre-test yourself and determine your level of CLB, using the site: www.clb-osa.ca/home. Select the level at which you are applying for and click the Can Do Checklist. Make checkmarks near those statements which you agree with. If not all the statements have a checkmark, it means that you have not reached this level yet. Go down then to the level below. If all the statements have checkmarks, perhaps your level is higher; then move up a level.
More useful information is offered on the site: www.cleo.on.ca/english/projects/eslLevel.htm. Here you will find a description of issues related to renting housing and the rights of workers at different levels of the CLB from 1 to 5!
Before selecting your courses, you should find the appropriate school address and determine if it is far from your home and whether or not you will get a fee for transportation. If you have pre-school children, determine whether there is a nursery in your language school. Find out whether the timetable is consistent with the hours of your job, if you already have one. You can choose a school with full-time or part-time schedules and even find an ESL teacher who knows your native language. There are classes that are offered in the evening and on weekends; some schools are open during the summer. Sometimes you have to wait until there are vacancies in the chosen school.
How fast can you reach the necessary level of English language skills?
It takes about three months to improve language skills by one level. First of all, pay attention to the ability to listen and talk and then to reading and writing. In libraries, there are many items to help language learners: books for easy reading, audio and videotapes.
If testing shows that your English level is higher than that offered by the LINC program, you will be told about the possibilities for further improvement of your language in other free or fee-paying schools, colleges or universities.
Take the time, effort, and money to develop the English language skills because this is the best investment in your future in Canada.