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