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KEF Language Adaptation

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Developed for KEF Montreal 7 November 2014

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KEF Language Adaptation

  1. 1. Theme 4 : The role of language in the professional adaptation of internationally educated social workers in Québec Annie Pullen Sansfaçon et Alice Gérard Tétreault Knowledge Exchange Forum 7 novembre 2014, Montréal 1
  2. 2. PRESENTATION AGENDA 1. Language as it relates to newcomer adaptation 2. The necessity of mastering French 3. Methodology 4. Presentation of results 5. Topics for discussion 6. Small group discussion questions 2
  3. 3. Language as it relates to the adaptation of newcomers • French = more points for immigration to Québec • « […] the structure of language significantly impacts social relations. » (Lebeau and Renaud, 2002, p.70) • « […] knowing French before migration facilitates employment mobility for newcomers. » (Godin and Renaud, 2005, p. 152) • « We find that the pre-migration knowledge of French and (or) English is a temporary factor giving access to skilled or better paying jobs, but that it does not affect participation in the labour market. » (Godin and Renaud, 2005, p. 149) 3
  4. 4. • « Learning the new language of work starts upon arrival to the new country and progresses very quickly during the first 5 years of residence. Following this, the progression slows sharply. The adoption of the language of work is like any commonly spoken language, like a second or principal language, it takes about 10 to 15 years of residence. « (Veltman, 1988, p. 347) • « […] adult immigrants have, in their workplace, contact with the language which constitutes a crucible strongly influencing their integration. » (Pagé, 2010, p.19) • « Everyone agrees that the workplace has a decisive influence on the conditions for inclusion in the various spheres of Québec society. It often is the central contact with the French-speaking Quebecers. » (Piché, 2004, p.14) • Selon Piché (2004), many factors influence the linguistic integration of immigrants to Québec: age at arrival, length of residence, field of practice, linguistic politics, etc. 4
  5. 5. The requirement of French proficiency to have membership in the professional order • « The professional orders shall not issue permits except to persons whose knowledge of the official language is appropriate to the practice of their profession. » Charter of the French Language, article 35. • If the person is not « deemed » to have this knowledge of the language, she is required to obtain certification from l’Office québécois de la langue française via a French exam. • The exam, specific to each profession, evaluates oral and written French comprehension and proficiency. (Website for the Office of the French Language) 5
  6. 6. Methodology « Francophone » participants * Participants with other languages 13* 13 * The Spanish participant is included in this group because she had lived for more than 5 years in a Francophone country and is completely bilingual. 6 Participant Country of Origin N=26 France 12 Lebanon 4 Romania 3 United States 3 Colombia 2 Spain 1 Venezuela 1  N = 26  All participants are members of the OTSTCFQ  2002-2012
  7. 7. Presentation of results • Language = fundamental aspect of professional adaptation • Francophone participants or those with a strong knowledge of French at arrival also experienced linguistic difficulties connected to the professional context. • 6 themes emerged on the question of language: 1. Technical difficulties connected to the French language and/or Québécoise; 2. Difficulties with French negatively impact professional experience; 3. Positive aspects of adaptation to French impacting professional experience; 4. Difficulties associated with English at work; 5. Elements that facilitated the language adaptation of participants and; 6. The impact of proficiency of the language of origin and other languages on professional experience 7
  8. 8. Presentation of results 1. Technical difficulties connected to the French language and/or Québécoise United States « French is difficult. The pronunciation. The grammar. It’s new in a language for me. » France (5)« [...] but there are things that I still don’t understand, like vocabulary, words at work and the accent. » Spain « […] you’re Spanish and on top of that you learned your French in France, that means that French isn’t your mother tongue. It’s not obvious, it’s not a given, you know. There are a lot of words that you still don’t understand and a lot of expressions and also the accent, so […] » France (4) « Then that’s what they told me about the ‘savoir-etre’ and ‘savoir-faire’ and for me it was not a vocabulary that was known and that’s a bit of a cultural difference. When I arrived, there was a lot, when I talked about clinical and legal, I said ‘oh là là!’ It’s a vocabulary that I didn’t know but it sure is, spoken differently. » 8
  9. 9. • Technical difficulties were different for Francophones and those with a language other than French or English. – Foreign language VS subtleties of language 9 Understand Be understood Express Expressions Vocabulary Jargon French Language Accents Pronunciation
  10. 10. Presentation of results 2. Difficulties with French negatively impact professional experience United States «[…] before I moved, I found the Canadian counselling association online, and at the time I couldn’t communicate with the Ordre because it was just in French and I knew not a lot of words. » France (5) « […] when you are interviewed by two people who are on the ground and employing a vocabulary that is not necessarily familiar, well we manage to understand, but it brings more stress that fact that, perhaps I am less comfortable as someone who has worked here. » France (8) « The first challenge is to thoroughly understand. Me and them. What they talk about, what they expect from me, to understand what they want. » Venezuela « Finally, I forwarded the file to her, uh … yes. I didn’t know if it was good. Afterward we chatted a little about the file, the school social worker told me it really wasn’t, compared to my intervention, we have these other things and, why the lady didn’t really want to be in contact with a person who didn’t understand the language as well as her, she would have been more comfortable with … » 10
  11. 11. France (3) « […] It’s a little like, we had to start from scratch, to prove to people that we knew […] It’s like we were too new for, for certain colleagues. Yeah, it’s bizarre. It’s a little confusing in the beginning because we still have a bit of baggage there. I have worked three years and still it was like I had just left school for some people. » France (3) « It was a bit complicated at times, I felt, to speak Chinese with the girls. They asked me things that I didn’t understand at all. […] As soon as we started having meetings, I understood nothing, it was super hard. » Romania (2) « […] I wasn’t certain what I do in my work because of my language. I had felt that I didn’t understand much from the beginning. […] But, you’re always asking yourself what is it that you do, are you doing enough […] it’s just like I told you, to feel confident, that I am fairly … fairly capable of working only in French. […] I always felt inferior. It was like a handicap.» France (6) « […] there are moments where I could lose my credibility. For example, something stupid … a parent told me I am at the BS. What is BS? Social benefits. Oh but I don’t know. […] Sometimes the parents know more than I do. For example … uh, what can I say? It’s the acronyms. […] It’s like if they talk to me about the DPJ and I say, ‘what is the DPJ?’ ‘Well, you’re a social worker, you don’t know what the DPJ is? That’s where … ‘ For a parent it’s assumed that a social worker would know that.» 11
  12. 12. • 4 levels of impact from linguistic difficulties on professional experience: 12
  13. 13. Presentation of results 3. Positive aspects of adaptation to French impacting professional experience • With clients/Service users – « There were never comments, on the contrary, they say that they find my accent charming. And uh, also, experience, that was like an example for some, because I come from somewhere else, I speak their language, so that encouraged them to persevere and that, that was like a facilitating factor, in fact a motivation. » Romania (3) • With colleagues – « With colleagues […] it was more about me learning the expressions they use, that make everyone smile a lot. It was a really positive impact of talking, like I told you before. I don’t get the impression that it’s a burden for them but rather, it’s something they find fun, to teach me new expressions. Sometimes it makes them happy to watch me look bad, and then explain to me. » France (7) 13
  14. 14. Presentation of results 4. Difficulties associated with English at work • Lebanon (3) « intervention in English with someone who has the same level as me is really easy, but to intervene with an English, an English-Canadian who was born here, that’s a big stress for me […] There is a client who told me, give me to someone, on the phone, who can speak and understand English. So, I was and then I found someone who could talk to her but I created anxiety in myself about intervening in English. » • France (5) « What has been really difficult, but it’s really personal, is that I don’t speak English (laughs). Or very, very little. So I wasn’t able to apply for job postings that require bilingualism. Unfortunately in Montreal there are many, many organizations […] that ask for bilingualism. So that eliminated a lot of employment offers. Notably, all of the job offers in the CSSS. There are areas where it is absolutely necessary, neighbourhoods […] » • Difficulties with English were reported less than difficulties with French • Impacts on: – The capacity to intervene; – Access to employment; – Relationships with colleagues (context of Anglophone work); – Perception of self, competence. 14
  15. 15. Presentation of results 5. Elements that facilitated the language adaptation of participants Colombia (2) : « So I put myself in activities where I would have to speak the language all the time. All day and with people who spoke only the language […]» Lebanon (3) : « […] there are expressions that I don’t know at all and people laugh but I don’t. You see, they tell a story and I don’t understand, I can’t move onto anything else without understanding. But I always have the courage to ask questions and that has always been well-received. » United States : « When I came here, I started taking a French course. Six hours a day for six weeks. That helped a lot. » 15
  16. 16. France (8) : « […] I use the same vocabulary as them, I find it’s really important when I’m working with a certain client, to speak the same language so they understand me. So I try not to use complicated words, I don’t use … I try to stay in the concrete […] It’s really important that they can understand me. So it’s up to me to adapt again. » France (3) « I mark the words that I didn’t understand and afterwards get an explanation […] I ask my colleagues. » United States : « I can do an interview in French without a problem, yes I make mistakes but I can do it. But I write the response in English, but often the family will say « Yes, I’m bilingual, I agree to the assessment in English but do the interview with my father in French. » […] but I have enough work in English, so finally, it’s rare that I would accept a French file, because I have a French team. » Romania (3) « […] I think, that I have an easy time learning languages. » 16
  17. 17. Presentation of results 5. Elements that facilitated the language adaptation of participants 17
  18. 18. Presentation of results 6. The impact of proficiency of the language of origin and other languages on professional experience Lebanon (4): « […] the majority of my clients are immigrants, immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence. It’s very easy for me to work with these women. Because I understand their culture, their language. Because I speak their language, they speak to me. » United States: « A lot of the kids say to me “ah I’m so glad you can speak English and don’t have an accent.” » France (5) « […] so anyway, I speak French and I speak it well so it’s easier. From the presentation of my CV and my cover letter, I thought it was easy. » • Positive impacts = benefits to employment 18
  19. 19. TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION • Benefits and challenges linked to language • Language and counselling • Variations in French language • Accredited level of French VS reality on the ground • Bilingualism VS expectations • The time • « The adoption of the language of work is like any commonly spoken language, like a second or principal language, it takes about 10 to 15 years of residence. » (p. 347) 19
  20. 20. Small group discussion on the adaptation of language Suggested questions: How can the acquisition of language be facilitated? How can the subtleties of language be facilitated? Is there a better way to facilitate adaptation? Is it a shared responsibility between the SW and the organization? What level of language is needed for a social worker? Are the prerequisites sufficient? How can that be measured? 20

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