When looking at social trends within Canada, analysts at Statistics Canada have noticed a development concerning language transmission when comparing first-generation immigrant mothers and the use of their mother tongue in 1981, to their second-generation, Canadian-born daughters in 2006. While they have found a general increase in the intensity of language transmission from 1981 compared to 2006, as new immigrants continue to arrive especially from countries located in the Middle East, South America and Asia, there is a decrease found in language transmission between generations who are already living and established in Canada.
There are many factors that play into this. Among others, in marriages where the husband may not speak his wife’s mother tongue, that language therefore is less likely be practiced and used in the home. Another variable to consider is the women’s education. There is a correlation that shows language transmission tends to decrease when women are more highly educated, as the mother then maybe trying to improve her own child’s opportunity for success in Canada by embracing the English language at home. As can be expected there is a vast difference between languages and the tendency for a mother to pass on her native language to her children, which is found in the results of this study as well.
Taking into account however that this article also brings to light the idea that even under the Canadian government and Acts such as the Canadian Multicultural Act and the Official languages Act, it is Canada’s duty to encourage and preserve the mother tongue languages of immigrants. Nevertheless, this proves to be a hard task as the results of this study show the rate of language transmission between generations is generally on the decline.
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