Categorized | Immigrant

Vouchers work: more immigrants enrolling in language classes

Posted on 01 December 2010 by admin

Language Training Vouchers are increasing immigrant enrollment in English and French language classes, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today at the Punjabi Community Health Services Centre.

Preliminary results from the Language Training Vouchers pilot project show that more than twice the number of immigrants who received vouchers enrolled in free language training compared to those who did not receive vouchers, and that immigrant women were those most likely to enroll in language classes after receiving a voucher.

Language training in English or French has historically been provided free of charge for immigrants and still is. Since 2006, the Government of Canada has tripled immigrant settlement funding for organizations that provide services to newcomers such as English and French language training. Unfortunately, despite the tripling in funding since 2006, enrollment in language classes has not significantly increased. Only 25 percent of immigrants sign up for settlement services.

Under the Language Training Vouchers pilot project, which was launched in October 2009, 2,000 immigrants, chosen randomly in Ontario, Nova Scotia and Alberta, were mailed vouchers that they could take to an immigrant settlement service centre provider of their choice. This gave them the same right as those not in the pilot: the ability to enroll in free, federally-funded language training known as Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC). The difference was, those in the pilot received a special voucher that they could redeem at the immigrant settlement provider of their choice for language classes. Within six months of the vouchers being sent, immigrants selected to take part in the pilot were more than 100 percent more likely to enroll in free language classes than those who were not part of the pilot.

“I have always believed in the ability of vouchers to encourage competition, promote accountability, and empower the recipients,” said Minister Kenney. “The success of our Language Training Vouchers pilot project shows that, when it comes to immigrants, not only do vouchers work in theory, they also work in practice. No initiative undertaken since I have been minister has so radically and fundamentally increased enrollment in English and French language training among immigrants.”

Among those immigrants who were sent vouchers and subsequently enrolled in free language classes, 60 percent were women, compared to 40 percent in the control group that did not receive the vouchers.

“Language Training Vouchers are empowering immigrant women, who are enrolling in language classes in even greater numbers than men,” said Alice Wong, Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism, and a former ESL teacher with a PhD in Instruction and Curriculum. “Vouchers are empowering immigrant women in their homes and at work by giving them the tools they need to speak English or French. Vouchers will better help them integrate into Canada.”

The objective of the project was to test if vouchers could increase enrollment in free, federally funded language training. The project will run until January 2011.

Through the LINC program, immigrants learn not only how to speak, read and write English or French, but also important aspects of integration, such as their rights and responsibilities as future Canadian citizens.

CIC funds a number of programs that help newcomers settle, adapt and integrate into Canadian society.

For more information on CIC programs, consult our website at

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