This discussion paper is part of a larger Movement for Canadian Literacy (MCL) project entitled Linkages: Connecting Literacy and English as a Second Language (ESL).1 The goal of the overall project is for MCL to work with national organizations that support the ESL/Settlement and literacy fields to identify common issues and concerns and to document areas for mutual cooperation in the future.
MLC is interested in the connections between literacy and ESL because of the incidence of low literacy for immigrants, as indicated by the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS).2 The IALSS shows that 60% of immigrants score below Level 3 on prose literacy compared to 37% of the Canadian born population. Furthermore, the results showed that immigrants whose mother tongue differs from that of test language (English or French) had lower average scores overall than immigrants whose mother tongue was English or French.3 MCL sees the importance of looking at literacy as an issue of integration—in this case, literacy and immigration and citizenship. To examine this topic further, MCL decided to explore two questions in this project:
This discussion paper serves as a starting point and background material for a one-day forum connecting literacy, ESL, and settlement sectors sponsored by MCL. Delegates attending will be key players in the literacy, ESL, and settlement sectors.
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1 In other jurisdictions may be referred to as English as an Additional Language (EAL).
2 See ABC CANADA’s IALSS Report summary at http://www.abc-canada.org/media_room/media/ialss_summary_nov_05.pdf
See Literacy skills among Canada's immigrant population by Statistics Canada