The Newcomer Adult Learner

The term "newcomer" refers to an immigrant who has migrated to Canada and has lived here for less than five years1. Among the top settlement needs of this group of learners includes education in the form of language training and employment information - including services available for foreign trained professionals (Caidi et al., 2008). These needs - hence adult education options relevant based on such needs - are dependent on:

Unless learners are fluent in English, newcomers will need a language assessment and possible subsequent language training. The language assessment gives the learner and any SPO an idea of the learner's Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) language level, from which a decision can be made regarding next steps regarding language training. Also, English language training is dependent on a third factor influencing options & referrals regarding adult education - citizenship status.

The researchers have identified three common sub-profiles described by newcomers and corroborated by SPOs that serve newcomers:

1. Some newcomers arrive in Canada with "little to no schooling in their home country" (Hermann & Gris, 2012, p. 24). Learners in this situation may "have developed a number of strategies for coping with survival and everyday life" but may "lack skills necessary to facilitate successful language learning" (Hermann & Gris, 2012, p. 24).

2. Newcomers who arrive with some foreign schooling - such as a high school diploma from their home country - may require credential assessment prior to language assessment and training.

3. Others may arrive in Canada with post-secondary and/or post-graduate degrees such as a master's degree. These learners can also benefit from credential assessment and then more specialized language training. Depending on the English proficiency level of a newcomer and associated credentials shared upon arrival, adult education pathways can vary.

Questions are provided in the Core Questions section of this website to assist SPO practitioners (i.e. assessors, teachers, managers, caseworkers etc.) in identifying prior learning experiences, academic needs, and goals for newcomers.

  1. Statistics Canada (2011)