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English: its role as the language of comity in an employment programme for Canadian immigrants

Victoria, Mabelle Paderez



This study explores the experiences of a culturally and linguistically diverse group of immigrant adult students as they attended a 12-week employment preparation course for newcomers to Canada. The main aim of the course was to equip the immigrants with knowledge and skills, including English for employment purposes, which are necessary to be competitive in the labour market. Using ethnographic methods, mainly participant observation with audio recording, to collect data, this paper analyses the communicative
strategies that this group of multilingual speakers and their Canadian
teachers deployed to discursively construct a ‘heterotopia’ defined here as ‘intensely affective spaces that redefine the experiential feeling of being and becoming’. Analysis of transcribed audio recordings reveals that despite differences in communication conventions and sociocultural backgrounds, the research participants from Congo, Haiti, India, Bangladesh, Jordan and the Philippines managed to establish a socially cohesive team that emphasises shared relational identity and in-group membership. The findings show how they creatively mobilised previously acquired pragmatic
strategies and resources from their L1 to suit the demands of the
on going interaction in English. It is suggested that language teaching in the context of preparing immigrants for labour market integration entails a pedagogical approach that foregrounds the affordances of English not only as the language of employment but perhaps more importantly as the ‘language of comity’. It is therefore suggested that the teaching of the host country’s language should focus less on grammatical correctness and focus more on providing the adult learners with opportunities to activate existing pragmatic resources and strategies which have to do with establishing rapport and friendly relations.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 18, 2014
Online Publication Date Nov 14, 2014
Publication Date 2017-01
Deposit Date Jun 10, 2016
Journal Globalisation, Societies and Education
Print ISSN 1476-7724
Electronic ISSN 1476-7732
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Issue 1
Pages 114-134
Keywords language of comity, heterotopia, immigrants, culture, communication
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