Language Training and Immigrants' Success in Canada

April 05, 2017

George Orlov, PhD Student in the Department of EconomicsHow does language training impact the success rate of immigrants?

George Orlov, a PhD student in Economics, investigated this question for his thesis. He is presenting his findings as part of the university-wide Three Minute Thesis competition.

Orlov’s presentation discusses the economic gains immigrants receive from taking English as a Second Language (ESL) courses. Orlov found that language training was highly predictive of whether immigrants are likely to find employment in their field of training, and experience economics benefits.

“I am interested in conducting policy-relevant research. Immigrants represent approximately one-fifth of the Canadian labour force, but many of them do not work in their intended occupations and do not use their previously acquired skills,” said Orlov. “Provision of language training is one of the policies that can greatly improve immigrants’ outcomes.”

A substantial amount of research existed showing the economic gains available to immigrants from being proficient in a language used in the destination country.

“On the other hand,” Orlov said, “research on returns to ESL courses has been limited by data availability. I am grateful to Statistics Canada for providing the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC) through the Research Data Centre (RDC) program.”

Orlov intends to continue his research and has accepted a post-doc position at Cornell University.

Orlov presented his thesis in the Social Science heat of the Three Minute Thesis, and was one of three competitors selected to advance to the university-wide competition at Western.

“Looking at it as an audience member: it is fantastic to see research from different areas presented in an accessible and exciting manner,” said Orlov. “Looking at it as the person standing on the stage: it is exciting to tell an engaged audience about your research… with the timer making sure that the message is crisp, clear, and to the point.”

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is a competition which takes place in the spring of every year at universities throughout the world. The idea started in Australia and has quickly spread to many other countries. The idea is simple, students who are completing their thesis research present a single slide and have three minutes to explain to a panel of judges how and why their research is exciting, important, and innovative. One slide, and three minutes exactly.