Its new direction came as the immigration division of the Canadian government confirmed in a presentation that despite significant growth overall for Canada’s international education system, there was a decline in the volume of study permits issued for language study of 5% for 2019 on 2018.
“Languages Canada will continue to advocate for the right for language students to be able to work and experience the labour market”
Study permits are required for durations of six months or more, with many nationalities able to enrol while on a tourist visa for shorter durations of language learning.
Overall, Languages Canada revealed a 2% growth in market performance across its members in 2019 – but this was after a 2018 report which saw all of the growth that year concentrated among its public sector membership.
Canada’s well-known appeal is in part because of post-study work rights, which are available for graduates of public sector institutions.
Gonzalo Peralta, executive director of the association, impressed upon members that Languages Canada will continue to advocate for the right for language students to be able to work and experience the labour market, as an important part of a language learning immersion experience.
Canada’s language teaching sector was heavily impacted in 2014 when regulations were changed to forbid work as part of a language program.
Many language teaching companies with the scale to do so since pivoted to also offer career college programs which can include a work placement.
The association’s annual conference in Vancouver saw the launch of the new strategic plan, which, Peralta explained, took a lot of work to scan the industry horizon and focus on what is needed for members to succeed in the future.
“The executive committee reviewed the history of the association, asked hard questions, and challenged one another,” he said.
The strategic plan will see the inclusion of new membership segments, such as programs for new immigrants to Canada, corporate training and distance learning.
Another aspect of the plan is to oversee a Teaching Assistant program, similar to the UK’s British Council program which sees 2,500 language assistants placed in 14 countries annually.
The global ELT market is a mature sector, the new strategic plan details.
The strategy details a plan to work with Canadian and international partners to develop and roll-out a government-funded Canadian Language Teaching Assistant mobility program; create and offer a language teaching assistant certificate and TA toolkit; and leverage outbound learners as Canadian brand ambassadors.
This fits into the broader national international education strategy to foster far greater outbound engagement in studying abroad as well as diversifying source countries of inbound international students.
Other goals include establishment of a multi-year “pathway” visa
Other goals – as well as working with IRCC to establish a language-and-work program – include the establishment of a multi-year “pathway” visa established: one permit that will allow students to learn English/French and then continue onto post-secondary studies.
Rachel Lindsey, director of international affairs and operations at Languages Canada, told The PIE, “What I am most proud of in the creation of this five-year Strategic Plan is the process of self-reflection that went into it.”
She continued, “Starting with affirming the association’s identity and purpose, and asserting that our collective vision is for language education to serve as a tool to promote cross-border understanding, support diversity and inclusiveness, and increase access to opportunities.”
“The long-term prosperity of Canada’s language education sector is rooted in much more than profit-based motives; it is about creating a better Canada and a better world.”
The association has identified five clear goals and action plans for each:
- Showcase Canada and LC member programs as top choice English and French language education providers and partners.
- Influence legislation, regulations, and policies that support members, protect students, and enable innovation and growth within the language education sector.
- Drive quality across all aspects of Canada’s language education sector.
- Support and accelerate the ability of the association and our members to innovate.
- Create a stable, sustainable, vibrant organizational foundation for LC.