Canadian Language Testing

Mark Liberman over at Language Log has some comments on a Canadian ruling that requires immigrants from English-speaking countries to undergo language testing. I’m personally interested because it is likely that I will have to take this test if I apply for permanent residency in Canada (which I may do to qualify for Canadian government grants and funding).

I’m not sure there is really a linguistic issue at stake here. I have no issue with language testing for immigrants, especially those seeking to live in a country under some sort of professional status, and this particular ruling is more in “bureaucrats gone wild” category. It’s simply a waste of time and money. Declaring that a university education in an English-speaking country meets the language requirement would both give the bureaucrats their box to check and save a lot of money.

On the other hand, the US requirements are even more silly and may actually undermine the credibility of the process. If you are going to have a requirement, make it meaningful. Otherwise, just drop it.

As an aside, I really like the Canadian term landed immigrant. I liked it even more when I found out that despite being officially dropped in favor of the boring permanent resident, Canadians are going right ahead and continuing to use it, including those who write many government documents. Jargon dies hard. (Kind of like green cards in the US, which haven’t actually been green for many years.)

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