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Preparing for Citizenship Materials

The Opportunities:

Immigration Policy Changes – An Opportunity for the Church?

Canadian immigration policy has taken a dramatic turn in the last two years. Newcomers on the permanent resident track are slowly decreasing while temporary work permits are rapidly increasing. Family sponsorship of parents is giving way to ‘Super Visas’ where the older generation is able to have multiple, two-year visits over a period of ten years, but no path to permanent residence. Some paths to permanent residence such as the Canadian Experience Class also have new language requirements.  None of these newcomers are eligible for any government settlement services. Finally, language requirements for citizenship became far more stringent as of last November, with candidates needing to pass tests or graduate from the federal language program at LINC level 4.

All of these changes signal a government policy that reduces the costs of settlement. As churches serving our newcomer neighbours, how will this affect the way we shape our ministries? What new needs can we meet, while seizing fresh opportunities to share the gospel?

In light of these policy changes some of us at SOCEM met with Darcy MacCallum, a leader in settlement work, to consider opportunities for churches, particularly those involved in ESL ministry. Here are a few of the ideas that came out of that brainstorm:

1. New citizenship requirements

In order to obtain Canadian citizenship, candidates must prove their language proficiency in listening and speaking by either passing a recognized test such as the IELTS, or by taking full-time LINC classes and finishing level 4. Newcomers with non-European first languages who have not been exposed to English before arrival may take many years to achieve that level, if indeed they can reach it at all with the demands of supporting a family. In addition, most LINC classes do not have the resources for the intensive listening and speaking practice necessary to reach the required level.

Church programs can provide the small group practice needed to improve listening and speaking. If there are volunteers familiar with the IELTS exam, they could set up training for the test. The citizenship test itself could be the basis of a special class, and the government does provide study materials. See "Materials" below.

2. Temporary workers and ‘Super Visa’ holders

Federal settlement services, including language training, are unavailable for those entering on temporary work permits or ‘Super Visas’. This raises demand for other free language programs. If a temporary worker brings a spouse, or older parents come for an extended stay, they may become isolated without the means of work or study to form relationships. ESL ministries meet both language and social needs. The English class can be the link connecting students to other groups in our churches. For example, Super Visa grandparents providing daycare for grandchildren may benefit from a Seniors group or even from a Moms & Tots program. An isolated spouse unable to work may make friends within other groups. Involving the whole church and not just those in ESL ministry maximizes exposure to Christians and Christ.

3. Canadian Experience Class

Those applying for permanent status under this category will likely be holders of a temporary visa and must have had work experience in Canada. They tend to be professionals but could also be students  at a Canadian university. A primary need of theirs may be learning the work culture they wish to enter, including the process of securing employment in the first place. We can tailor ESL classes especially for these purposes.  Resources are available.  Connecting these neighbours to a Christian who is already in their profession can be the first step in a mentoring relationship and an introduction into the Christian community.

The opportunities for connecting with newcomers and sharing the gospel have never been greater. As the government steps away from settlement work, the family of Christ has other opportunities to step in. What is your church doing?  Might you share with us so that we might learn and grow together?

Below are PDF documents for helping people prepare for the Canadian citizenship test. To view the documents, click on the titles below. To download them directly to your own computer click on the arrows on the right.

The principal document is the Discover Canada Study Guide(2012). It is a study guide on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. However, the English level of this document is quite high. A look at Canada (2002) was the forerunner to the Discover Canada Study Guides. It is less detailed and uses a lower level of English. The document from Manitoba (2011) is based on the 2011 Discover Canada Study Guide and is organized as a series of ESL readings followed by comprehension questions. 

Best of The Reader, is a series of e-books by Joan Acosta for adult literacy and English as an additional language learners. The site has 14 e-books, a teachers’ guide, and a calendar of special days and holidays all free to download and use. Click here. 

If you have discovered any other materials, please make a comment below and share what you have found. Thanks.
ESL Ministries,
Mar 25, 2013, 5:52 PM
ESL Ministries,
Mar 25, 2013, 5:55 PM
ESL Ministries,
Mar 25, 2013, 5:53 PM