A Critical Analysis of the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)
The Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program is a Canadian federal Government initiative started in 1992 with the objective of facilitating the cultural, social and economic integration of refugees and immigrants into Canada.The program offers language instructions in either French or English to newcomers in Canada. This program is funded by the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), and it is provided free of charge (CIC, 2011).
The LINC Program offers full time, part time and distance learning classes for language instruction. For a person to be eligible for LINC classes, he/she must be a permanent citizen of Canada or a refugee. Persons whose permanent resident status is under review can also be eligible for this program after approval by the CIC. A person must also be aged eighteen years. The people willing to take the LINC classes must undergo a LINC assessment test to determine which level of language instruction is right for them (CIC, 2010).
The LINC program also includes in the language classes, information about helping new comers settle in Canada. The program orients newcomers with the way of life in Canada. The service providers of LINC programs are educational institutions, Municipal governments, NGOs and businesses. The Citizens and Immigrations Canada is responsible for the selection of participating organizations, funding of the program monitoring and evaluation, assessing of community needs and Promoting the LINC program to the public (Dempsey et al, 2009).
The LINC program has may stakeholders and has many activities in many territories and provinces in Canada (Galiev & Masoodi, 2012). The highly complex nature of the programs means that sufficient monitoring and evaluation activities are needed to ensure that the program achieves its objectives.
The LINC program involves three major levels of activity
1) Language assessment. The clients of the program are first of all evaluated using a standard benchmark the Canadian language benchmarks framework for English, and the SLC, the standards linguistiques Canadiens for French to determine the level of language proficiency (Zikic et al , 2010). The result of the language test are then used in determining the level of needs of clients and placing them with an appropriate language trainer in their community (TCSB, 2000).
2) Language training. Language training is offered in full time, part time and distance learning modes. The trainees are awarded certificates based on the successful completion of training (TCSB, 2000).
3) Delivery assistance. Funding is available to improve the delivery of LINC activities for the benefit of the clients like development of training materials (Gilroy, 2000).
Evaluation issues and objectives
The evaluation of the LINC program followed three main steps. The first step was an evaluation assessment phase that identified the main questions and issues that were addressed in this study. This step also identified the suitable methods of gathering evidence on the identified issues. The next step was the evaluation study where data was collected and analyzed to determine the findings about the issues under review. The last step was using the findings to make conclusions and recommendations.
The LINC program was evaluated based on five issues.
I) Outcomes. This issue entails the evaluation of the the benefits of the program to its clients and the related outcomes like job creation, improvement of social welfare and negative effects on clients.
II) Program rationale, delivery and continued relevance. This is the extent to which the program continues to be very relevant to the priorities and the needs of the government and the citizens.
III) Results and success. This issue examined the extent to which the LINC program fulfills its objectives within the budget and without having many unintended consequences.
V) Cost effectiveness. This is the extent to which the LINC program utilizes the most appropriate and cost effective method in fulfilling its objectives. This entailed analyzing whether there are more cost effective ways of implementing the existing programs and looking into whether there are alternative ways of achieving the intended results of the program.
The evaluation of LINC followed two lines of evidence:
- A review of LINC data and related documentation from the CIC and other sources.
- One on one interviews with stakeholders involved in the implementation of the program. These included 10 CIC officers in local and regional offices and 10 language trainees in different locations.
The findings of the study
1) Program rationale and relevance
There is a very clear rationale and continued need for language training in both French and English for new immigrants in Canada. The views of the CIC staff and the interview with the graduates of the LINC program indicated that the program addresses the need of developing adequate language skills to newcomers in Canada. The LINC program also helps new immigrants integrate in the Canadian society (Gilroy,2000). The interviews revealed that most people adapt to Canadian life and gain employment faster after graduating from the LINC program. This program is therefore very closely aligned with the priorities of the Government for successful and fast integration of immigrants into Canada.
According to CIC (2011), language is the biggest barrier that newcomers face in furthering their education and gaining employment in Canada. The role of the federal Government in providing language training is therefore very appropriate through LINC. The LINC program is also designed to meet the needs of the students and it is a program of a high quality with qualified instructors , good curriculum and instruction materials (Dempsey et al, 2009).