Effective Adult ESL Model Economic Impact on the Economy of Canada


English has acquired an international reputation as a world language due in large part to the globalized power relations of companies and governments (Graddol, 1997). English as a second language, also known as an ELS program, has evolved over the years and influenced economical and social sectors. Much advancement has happened in the field of ESL, and more changes will likely develop depending on the situation and world trends. All types of education institutes are undergoing a number of changes as a result of advancements in computer technology, on-line learning, and growing competition from dot.com companies (Howell et al, 2003).

The aim of this literature review is to examine and analyze the different related and existing literature for setting parameters for an effective adult ESL model and its impact on micro and macro economic indicators in Canada. This literature review also discusses a framework to assess the potential economic and social benefits and costs of an effective adult ESL program model. As worldwide need for effective adult ESL instruction continues to grow, proficient English is ranked as a top requirement for entry into higher levels of education and job brackets (Iljeva, 2005), the use and the study of these adult ESL models and their economic effects becomes of significant importance.

The selection of this literature review is made up of two major components: ESL and economic impact. The section of ESL resources is based on specific works and fundamentals that have shown effectiveness and balance of different positions in the area of adult ESL, which promote retention, motivation, and progression. In this section, there is one sub-section that presents reliable information about the researches concerning the factors, which may influence the making up of an effective ESL program.

As for the economic portion, the fact that this area is just breaking ground and has severely limited resources reflects the scarcity of relevant literature available. Therefore, sources are limited to very select departments in the government of Canada that specifically have strong ties to processes and policies of immigration such as Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage. They are also limited to specific non-profit organizations in Canada.


There are no typical adult ESL students. They come from diverse linguistic, educational, and cultural backgrounds and bring with them an array of life experiences. Therefore, their needs vary greatly, and they do not all need the same type of support. Research on second language learning indicates that ESL students in the English-speaking systems require appropriate English language support. A clear understanding of ESL students and their needs is an important requirement if the system is to provide the development of their individual potential (British Columbia. Ministry of Education. Special Programs Branch. 1999). An adult education program concerned about learner preservation, diligence and motivation need to develop ways to help learners simplify and commit to their learning needs and goals (Bello, 2000). Each learner has slightly different needs and goals, so by including the learners in the process of collaboration on the curriculum, very unique possession of learning occurs as new facets from the learning experiences shape the curriculum for each individual class. Ahlstrom (2003) states that by collaborating and incorporating learners’ insights from their lives, priorities and goals, a theme, based on the curriculum, emerges and is considered to be emergent, dynamic, realistic and motivating. Furthermore, by involving learners in choosing content and instructional methods, the potential of progress is reflected in their language proficiency and their commitment and conscientiousness about their studies (Becker, Ullman, 1997). Further, all the above-mentioned information builds and validates Paulo Friere’s theoretical innovations, which have had a considerable impact on the development of educational participatory approaches to teaching ESL. From the very beginning, there were the classrooms, where the teachers delivered knowledge to their students’ heads – it was a kind of birth for “the banking concept of education” (Freire, 1970); now, the same classrooms became those very classrooms, where students and teachers have to study everything together. Therefore, by agreeing to the idea, that knowledge comes from teachers and students alike, praxis is created to find the place where theory and practice meet. In that space, communicative and all language instructional approaches promote the integration of speaking, listening, reading, and writing in ways that reflect natural language use.

Consequently effectively addressing students’ needs and goals, setting higher expectations, providing individual support, introducing various instructional methods, promoting integrated language proficiency and involving students in the curriculum and content development leads to language proficiency and attainment of goals.

Immigration to Canada

Immigration has played a significant role in shaping the population of Canada. Two-thirds of the population growth from 2001 to 2006 has been due to immigration (Immigration, 2006 Census). Fluency in the English language is the dominant assimilation factor for immigrant students. Dealing with the issue of language in the classroom in order to assist immigrant students to merge seamlessly into the Canadian society and English speaking population presents considerable challenges. The daunting task of finding the right curriculum and instructional methods to fit the needs and goals of immigrants aiming to complete their education is vital (Wallace, 2004). It would hence ensure that immigrants are offered an education plan that would make them proficient in the best possible way. “Insufficient proficiency in English has been found to be one of the key barriers to the social and professional integration” (Cervatiuc, 2008, p. 68).

Furthermore, there are those, who became young adults fully qualified and professionally successful. These people interacted and reshaped environments to improve their English Learning process (Cervatiuc, 2008, p. 67). “High English proficiency has a positive effect on immigrant earnings and employment type in Canada” (Chiswick & Miller, 1988). Highly educated immigrants are driving taxis and selling pizzas because of their poor English proficiency. Exposure to the English language and the social environment is conducive to becoming proficient in communication.

The number of English Language learners has increased in Canada and in the United States. The number of these English language learners increases and causes the fast-spreading of people with multiple native languages in Canada. The demand for classroom teachers has also increased with regard to a change in the manner of teaching. English language learners come from diverse cultures, languages and educational levels (Vanderwood, 2007). Another problem is that the academic and conversational languages may be different even in native English-speaking students. This may affect their written examinations. As a result, English language learners secure better results than native English-speaking students (Snow and Biancorosa, 2003). Thus, the increasing diversity of newcomers to Canada requires a wider range of services, new approaches and better coordination to result in positive outcomes.

Factors that Make up an Effective ESL Program

ESL educational programs are considered to be one of the central issues, which aim at improving newcomer’s integration and supporting those, who have some problems with speaking English (Fleming, 2007). This is why in order to offer a proper and effective ELS program, it is necessary to take into consideration the factors, which influence the effectiveness of the program’s development, the students’ perception and comprehension of the material, and the reasons why these very points are regarded to be the most significant among the others. This section of the literature review will present all the necessary information about past and possible future researches on the theme concerning the factors, which play an important role in ESL program development.

In order to develop a proper program, it is necessary to pay attention to such factors as (1) English skills instruction, (2) the content of these instructions, (3) social integration of each student in the ESL educative group, and (4) ESL demographics. Alboim (2002) admits that demographic realities turn out to be the major factor of “shaping current and future labor market needs” (p.9). This very idea proves that in order to be an appropriate part of any group and ESL program, in particular, it is crucially important to weigh the demographic factor and consider that not each student is able to speak English in the same way as the other members of the group, and the needs of each student have to be evaluated both in urban and rural areas.

The effectiveness of any ESL program depends on the proper choice, made by both students and teachers: teachers have to present the best ways in order to explain the material in a proper way and provide the student with a chance to comprehend this material and use it in the future; and students have to evaluate numerous components to make the right decision like time, budget, and location. It is not always important to make the cooperation of teachers and students mutually dependent, however, it is still better to remember that if success is achieved from both sides, the chances to create a really effective ESL program increase.

As for the teachers’ contribution to making up an effective ESL program, the significant factor that has to be taken into certain attention is closely connected to the proper choice of parameters of the group: available/appropriate time, age of a student, student background knowledge of English, and appropriate length of time (British Columbia, 1999). With the help of this literary source in the form of a guide, it is clear that any effective program concerning ELS requires proper awareness of student background knowledge: when a teacher knows for sure what level of knowledge a particular student has, it turns out to be easier and more concrete to define what areas have to be improved and what knowledge has to be provided. Properly chosen teaching methods also influence considerably the development of an effective ESL program. A teacher has to take into account the age of a student, its social status, and own interests in order to offer the most effective models of teaching and explaining the material. The main purpose of any ESL program is not only to speak and think in English but also to write and read this language (Rosenthal, 2000). This is why, any teacher has also to create a proper multilingual environment in order to introduce the subject and the members of the group to each other, to explain the significance of this program, and to find out the ways with the help of which native language of a student may influence the comprehension of English.

Students, in their turn, have to pay special attention to the other not less important factors, which make up an effective ESL program. First of all, it is the location and the length of the chosen program; and secondly, it is all those facilities and costs, which are required by the program (Cleland, 2001). If a student makes the right choice concerning the length of the ESL program, he/she gets a chance to determine the necessary goals, which are expected from the program, and to evaluate his own budget in order to complete the program. Cleland (2001) tells that a thorough evaluation of costs should take a certain period of time because a student has to analyze his own financial and studying skills and opportunities and clear up whether the chosen program is appropriate for him/her. If the student makes a mistake at this very level of evaluation, the effectiveness of the program, in general, may be under a serious threat and the results may be rather disappointing.

The researches in the sphere of ESL programs in Canada prove that all these programs will become more flexible and coordinated in order to underline the significance of “citizenship status and fluency levels” (Ricento & Burnaby, 1998, p. 262). This is why, first and foremost, both students and teachers should evaluate properly the level of background knowledge of English and present clear information about their own citizenship to make up an effective ESL educative program. The above-mentioned factors, which considerably influence the effectiveness of ESL programs, have been chosen for this literature because they help to make the proper choice for both students and tutors, and their proper understanding is obligatory for those, who want to succeed with making up an effective ESL program.

Economic Impact on the Economy of Canada

Adult ESL programs are usually compared with the same programs for young students. Between these two types of learning processes, there are many similarities and differences, however, the main difference lies in the fact that adult ESL programs have a close connection to the economy of the country and the economic impact of these programs is significant to the country’s economy. Students’ attitude to education, especially to the studying of the second language, is quite different in comparison to adult attitudes. Adults comprehend that this type of knowledge is crucial for their job, their earnings, and for their future. This is why they try to use their best qualities to prove they are worthy of this education; they try to find time to get this education and be a member of the chosen course; finally, they try to take into consideration even such details like the location of the ESL program.

The economic impact of effective ESL programs on the economy of Canada takes a very important place in the discussions concerning the effectiveness and the benefits of any ESL program in Canada. As the researches show, the immigrants constitute ¼ of the whole Canadian population (Chiswick & Miller, 1988); this is why the barriers, which take place within social and even professional integration, are usually connected to non-proper knowledge of English and inability to express workers’ thoughts in a proper way. Immigrants have a great potential to present really effective work, however, the lack of English communication does not allow to exchange the necessary information on a proper level. Not many reliable sources may offer information on how the economic situation of Canada may be improved or damaged by the immigrants’ work and poor level of English acquisition. However, several rather captivating works may help to get a clear picture of the challenges and problems, which are inherent to not-native English speakers in Canada.

The statistics demonstrate that the number of immigrants to Canada increases considerably: in 2006, more than 57% were immigrants at the age of 25 to 54 (Chui et al., 2006). It means that the vast majority of people, who live in Canada, are not native speakers; only about 42% of Canadian citizens are considered to be native. If we analyze the group of people from 55 to 64 working age, the results are a bit different: about 4% are immigrants, and more than 10% are the Canadian-born population (Chui et al., 2006). Immigrants, who came to Canada at the age of 65 and over, run to 3, 4%; and the native population at the age of 65 and over amounts to 11, 5% (Chui et al., 2006). These statistics help to realize that immigration to Canada will never stop, and the economy of this country may considerably depend on the annual number of immigrants, their age, their level of English acquisition, and their abilities to work effectively.

Lots of researchers have already investigated the ESL problems of immigrants, who came to Canada. One of them was Andreea Cervatiuc. In one of her articles, Cervatiuc (2008) develops the ideas of how successful Canadian immigrants make attempts to comprehend their new environments and improve their English writing and communicating skills. Socio-economic factors have a certain impact on these immigrant’s success in business, but still, all these factors depend on how these people comprehend English and their duties, which are closely connected with this language. The author under consideration takes into account the economic situation of the country, the economic impact of immigrants and ESL programs, which may influence the further development of the country. The immigrants have two possible ways to improve their English or even to learn it from the very beginning: it is possible to take English courses and learn English within a certain group of people with the similar to your level of knowledge or hire a personal tutor and study English independently, being checked by a tutor only. In the latter case, the tutor is the only bridge that connects a learner and the target language tells about the peculiarities of the chosen language and communicates with you on the necessary for this learning process themes. In the former case, all members of groups get a chance to communicate with the representatives of other cultures as well as with their peers from Canada (Cervatiuc, 2008), share their personal experience, tell about their own difficulties and achievements while studying English, etc. ESL programs usually help to develop communication, this is why it is better to develop own English within a group of people in order not only to learn the material but also to be able to discuss it with people with the same level of knowledge.

Due to unbelievable economic growth within the country, its citizens notice that the number of foreigners increases considerably. The changes, which take place in different spheres of Canadian life, prove that immigration is still a considerable factor of the Canadian population and its unbelievable growth (Chui et al., 2006). The increase of immigration causes challenges with getting proper education: more people want to get their education and improve their English, and only a few people can do it because of a small number of sophisticated teachers, who are able to make up an effective ESL program. The point is that adult students get a chance to study at both privileged and not that privileged schools (Snow & Biancarosa, 2003). The point that may cause such different chances to get proper education is closely connected to the economic impact of the ESL program. If one group of people may get higher education and study the second language at the proper level and the other group faces certain difficulties due to their different levels of background knowledge and awareness about the Canadian culture, the results of this education will be not that successful. Different level of English acquisition between the immigrants creates more challenges at work, and the results of poor work may negatively influence the economy of Canada.

As Roslym Kunin and Associates, Inc. (2006) point out “economic impact studies provide information on the amount and nature of spending generated by an agency/organization, facility, program, or event and are complemented for a variety of purposes” (p. 2). This research demonstrates that economic impact may be of two types: indirect and induced, and the authors properly identify the differences between these impacts and their connection to the economy. In order to realize how exactly ESL programs influence the economy of Canada, it is necessary to underline the purposes and challenges, which are inherent to ESL students and connect them to the economical sphere of life. Vanderwood and Nam (2007) help to comprehend that one of the most significant challenges for any ELS student is to determine their own level of proficiency in English and the native language. The proficient tests differ from each other in numerous ways, this is why the results of these tests cannot be reliable from all perspectives. The goals of ESL programs have been distinguished by numerous researchers and writers, and some of the definitions differ in certain ways. For example, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development (2009) tells that the major goal of any ESL program is to support immigrants and newcomers and make their integration into Canada’s social and economic spheres easier. As a rule, such integration requires a certain attention to the obligatory terms and unfamiliar words. And Douglas Brown (1994) wrote that any program and any language has to promote proper communication without bothering a student with too complicated terminology. These controversies confirm that even these factors influence the proper development of ESL programs and the economy of Canada.


An effective ESL program can be made up in a proper way after several rather significant factors will be taken into consideration. This literature review is aimed at describing these factors and evaluating how exactly the economic impact of the ESL program is reflected on the economy of Canada.

The effectiveness of any ESL program depends on properly established learning goals. Tom Bello (2000) recommends the use of two types of goals: for life and for this particular class. To achieve good results in their education, adult learners have to comprehend what their major and minor goals could be. Getting a proper education may be a life goal, and mastering English should be the goal of the chosen ESL program. Only if an adult student unites these two goals during his/her education, an effective ESL program can be made up. This is why a successful choice of goals during education is a good point in order to start developing the ESL program Lots of not-native speakers come to Canada in order to earn and improve their lives, but still, their goals remain to be unclear. They may realize that English is obligatory for their success, however, they face certain troubles to admit that fact and do something to improve this situation. As a result, their poor English is considered to be the first factor, that may considerably influence their achievements, and their work will hardly be successful because of such a poor level of knowledge.

In Canada, immigrants with better education have a better economic impact due to their earnings and independence (Gibney & Hansen, 2005).In spite of the fact that nowadays these immigrants have more chances to improve their education, they face numerous competitions and challenges at labor markets, and the level of their education cannot be improved in a proper way. The economic impact of ESL programs on ordinary immigrants takes a significant place in the everyday life: rich immigrants have chances to learn English, and poor immigrants cannot find enough money to comprehend English better. Without proper language training, numerous language barriers appear, which lead to a lack of experience and credentials, and a low level of employment. This low level of employment causes problems within the sphere of the economy.

This literature review helps to concentrate our attention on the ideas, which may help to realize how to improve immigrants learning processes and support them with their desire to master English on the necessary level. If the workers communicate in one and the same language, it is not enough to present positive results of their work. Their level of knowledge and abilities to communicate, write, and read English properly – this is what plays a significant role in the success of immigrants’ cooperation. Past researches present a clear picture of what attempts have been already made in the spheres of education and economy in order to improve the economic impact of ESL programs. The sophisticated investigators provide us with an opportunity to define the goals and the components of an effective ESL program and its economic impact on the economy of Canada. The results of past investigations prove that immigration is one of the most important reasons why the development of ESL programs takes an important place in the sphere of education in Canada. It turns out to be obvious to provide each immigrant with a chance to study English on a really high level because immigrants’ awareness of English has an impact on people’s work and the economy of Canada in general.


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Brown, H. D. (1994). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Cervatiuc, A. (2008). Deconstructing the Environment: The Case of Adult Immigrants to Canada Learning English. Journal of Identity and Migration Studies, 2(2), 67-86.

Chiswick, B., & Miller, P. (1988). Earnings in Canada: The Roles of Immigrant Generation, French Ethnicity and Language. Research in Population Economics, 6: 183-224.

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