Integrating Better but Multilingually: Language Practices of South Asian Immigrants for Settlement and Integration in Canada

Abstract views: 193 / PDF downloads: 152




Canadian Index for Measuring Integration (CIMI) is used by researchers, policy analysts, and government agencies to evaluate newcomer performance against the local-born population across four dimensions: economic, social, political, and health. Despite recognizing integration as a multidimensional and complex phenomenon, the index mainly evaluates the achievement of the four dimensions but without looking at how they are achieved (e.g., the role of different languages) and the type of integration (narrowed or broader) taking place. One underlying assumption can be that since Canada is a bilingual country, one of the official languages must be used for settlement and integration. However, as this study finds, this may not reflect the social reality of the Canadian society where diverse immigrant populations capitalize on official and non-official languages for settlement and integration. Utilizing the four dimensions with language as an additional variable, this quantitative study reports findings from 493 participants from a sub-group of South Asians from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan who are able to settle and integrate better when English and ethnic languages are used for socio-politico-economic and health integration. In addition to reporting micro-level multilingual integration supported by ethnic concentrations, this study calls for further investigation of the type of integration in ethnic concentrations and its long-term implications for the Canadian society.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Kashif Raza, University of Calgary

Kashif Raza is a sessional instructor and PhD candidate at Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. His research interests include language policy and planning, language and immigration, political economy, law and ethics in education, TESOL leadership, and multilingualism. He is the chief co-editor of Handbook of Multilingual TESOL in Practice (Springer, 2023) and Policy Development in TESOL and Multilingualism: Past, Present and the Way Forward (Springer, 2021).


Abdulrahim, S., & Baker, W. (2009). Differences in self-rated health by immigrant status and language preference among Arab Americans in the Detroit Metropolitan Area. Social Science & Medicine, 68(12), 2097–2103. DOI:

Agarwal, S. K. (2013). Economic disparities among South Asian immigrants in Canada. South Asian Diaspora, 5(1), 7–34. DOI:

Agarwal, S., & Kurtz, N. (2019). Ethnic spatial segmentation in immigrant destinations – Edmonton and Calgary. International Migration & Integration, 20(1), 199–222. DOI:

Alba, I. D., & Sweningson, J. M. (2006). English proficiency and physicians’ recommendation of Pap smears among Hispanics. Cancer Detection and Prevention, 30(3), 292–296. DOI:

Alberta Health Services. (2023). Get health system information in your language.

Calgary Police Service. (2023). Police information check: Translated consent forms and ID posters.

Canadian Index for Measuring Integration. (2020, March). CIMI methodology overview. Retrieved June 15, 2022, from

Capstick, T. (2021). Language and migration. Routledge. DOI:

Clarke, A., & Isphording, I. E. (2016). Language barriers and immigrant health. Health Economics, 26(6), 765–778. DOI:

Creswell, J. W. (2005). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Pearson.

Cunningham, S. A., Ruben, J. D., & Narayan, K. M. V. (2008). Health of foreign-born people in the United States: A review. Health & Place, 14(4), 623–635. DOI:

Elections Canada. (2006). Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the 39th General Election of January 23, 2006.

Etowa, J., Hyman, I., Dabone, C., Mbagwu, I., Gose, B., Sano, Y., Osman, M., & Mohamoud, H. (2021). Strengthening the collection and use of disaggregated data to understand and monitor the risk and burden of COVID-19 among racialized populations. Canadian Studies in Population, 48(2-3), 201–216. DOI:

Ferdous, M., Lee, S., Goopy, S., Yang, H., Rumana, N., Abedin, T., & Turni, T. C. (2018). Barriers to cervical cancer screening faced by immigrant women in Canada: A systematic scoping review. BMC Women’s Health, 18(1), 1–13. DOI:

Fishman, J. A. (1971). The sociology of language: An interdisciplinary social science approach to language in society. In J. A. Fishman (Ed.), Advances in the sociology of language (pp. 104–217). De Gruyter Mouton.

Fong, E., & Shen, J. (2011). Explaining ethnic enclave, ethnic entrepreneurial and employment niches: A case study of Chinese in Canadian immigrant gateway cities. Urban Studies, 48(8), 1605–1633. DOI:

Fraenkel, J. R., Wallen, N. E., & Hyun, H. H. (2012). How to design and evaluate research in education (8th ed.). McGraw Hill.

Government of Alberta. (2018). Alberta Provincial Electoral Divisions: Calgary-North East.

Government of Canada. (2022). Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration.

Grin, F. (2003). Language planning and economics. Current Issues in Language Planning, 4(1), 1–66. DOI:

Guo, S., & Guo, Y. (2016). Immigration, integration and welcoming communities: Neighbourhood-based initiative to facilitate the integration of newcomers in Calgary. Canadian Ethnic Studies, 48(3), 45–67. DOI:

Hiebert, D. (2014). 'Parallel lives' or 'super-diversity'? An exploration of ethno-cultural enclaves in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, in 2011. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Hynie, M., Crooks, V. A., & Barragan, J. (2011). Immigrant and refugee social networks: Determinants and consequences of social support among women newcomers to Canada. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 43(4), 26–46.

Lebrun, L. A. (2012). Effects of length of stay and language proficiency on health care experiences among immigrants in Canada and the United States. Social Science & Medicine, 74(7), 1062–1072. DOI:

Li, E. X., & Li, P. S. (2016). Immigrant enclave thesis reconsidered: Case of Chinese immigrants in the enclave and mainstream economy in Canada. International Migration & Integration, 17, 131–151. DOI:

Mertler, C. A. (2016). Introduction to educational research. SAGE Publications. DOI:

Milroy, L. (1980). Language and social networks. Basil Blackwell.

Osaghae, O-G., & Cooney, T. M. (2019). Exploring the relationship between immigrant enclave theory and translational diaspora entrepreneurial opportunity formation. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 46(10), 2086–2105. DOI:

Portes, A. (1998). Social capital: Its origins and applications in modern sociology. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 1–24. DOI:

Qadeer, M., Agarwal, S. K., & Lovell, A. (2010). Evolution of ethnic enclaves in the Toronto metropolitan area, 2001-2006. International Migration & Integration, 11, 315–339. DOI:

Ravichandiran, N., Mathews, M., & Ryan, B. L. (2022). Utilization of healthcare by immigrants in Canada: A cross-sectional analysis of the Canadian Community Health Survey. BMC Primary Care, 23(69). DOI:

Raza, K., & Chua, C. (2022). Linguistic outcomes of language accountability and points-based system for multilingual skilled immigrants in Canada: A critical language-in-immigration policy analysis. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. Advance online publication. DOI:

Sekaran, U., & Bougie, R. (2003). Research methods for business: A skill building approach. Wiley.

Severo, C. G., & Görski, E. (2017). On the relation between the sociology of language and sociolinguistics: Fishman’s legacy in Brazil. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 243, 119–132. DOI:

Shuva, N. Z. (2021). Internet, social media, and settlement: A study on Bangladeshi immigrants in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science, 43(3), 291–315.

Swartz, D. (2012). Culture and power: The sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. University of Chicago Press.

The City of Calgary. (2018). Multilingual Communications and Engagement Policy Report to Council. C2018-1082.

Tossutti, L. (2007). The electoral participation of ethnocultural communities. Published as part of working papers series on electoral participation and outreach practices.

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. (2015). Measuring change in the socio-economic conditions of migrants.

Vahabi, M., & Lofters, A. (2016). Muslim immigrant women’s views on cervical cancer screening and HPV self-sampling in Ontario, Canada. BMC Public Health, 16(868), 1–13. DOI:

Vezina, M., & Houle, R. (2017). Settlement patterns and social integration of the population with an immigrant background in the Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver metropolitan areas.




How to Cite

Raza, K. (2023). Integrating Better but Multilingually: Language Practices of South Asian Immigrants for Settlement and Integration in Canada. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 10(2), 166–190.



Original Manuscript
Received 2023-03-22
Accepted 2023-04-29
Published 2023-05-07