“Canada is a popular destination for Indian students, but the difference between Canadian English and Indians’ spoken English is more complex,” says Dr. Ratna Ghosh who often hears the expression from her Indian international students, for example, “passed out in college this year” when they are referring to their graduation dates, said Ghosh.
“On the other hand, common expressions here like ‘I’m doing good’ leads Indian students to try and figure out what good you are doing,” said Ghosh, professor of education at Montreal’s McGill University. While often passed over as hilarious, these colloquialisms are symptoms of a more serious issue that leads to communication and understanding gaps that ultimately impact international students in Canada adversely, said Ghosh.
“Initially, it becomes difficult to understand the local accents and matching with the pace, and the tone of the language becomes problematic too,” she said. Ghosh said that getting good marks in English proficiency tests does not always translate into good interpersonal and communication skills, which impacts the chances of success for international students. “Both immigrants and international students need to be well prepared to enter the workforce,” he argued. “They need the tools to succeed and that starts with language ability in English and French,” he told language program directors attending the conference.
Welcoming international students and improving their language skills are essential for Canada to achieve its economic goals, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser told the recent Languages Canada annual conference. “Both immigrants and international students need to be well prepared to enter the workforce,” he argued. “They need the tools to succeed and that starts with language ability in English and French,” he told language program directors attending the conference.
Patrick Dang, a veteran Vancouver-based international education expert who is an advisor to the Indo-Canada Education Council, told New Canadian Media that a critical component to success for international students studying in Canada lies in their capabilities and competencies in the English language.
“Too often students are not prepared for success due to a study plan that fails to recognize, train and prepare them for their ability to comprehend, context, communicate and understand in English,” said Dang, who is the president of the Seymour Education and Learning Colleges.