Allophone students tend to have more academic success
Recent research shows that allophone students in Montreal, Toronto,
and Vancouver, graduate more or less as other students but, when their
personal characteristics are controlled, they tend to have more academic
success, especially in Vancouver.
In a 2013 paper published in Canadian Studies in Population, Jacques
Ledent of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique and his
Canadian colleagues analyzed provincial and local data on school
achievement in Canada’s three major immigrant-destination cities.
The study compared the academic achievements of students who do not use
the language of schooling at home (English in Toronto and Vancouver, and
French in Montreal) to the achievements of those who do use it. The
study designates the former group of students as allophones.
Data from all three cities indicated that these allophone students
have higher odds of graduating from secondary school than other
students. For instance, allophone students in Vancouver are more than
twice as likely as English-speaking students to graduate. In Toronto,
they are 1.35 times more likely. Lastly, allophones in Montreal are 1.39
times more likely than French speakers to graduate.
Data also showed that allophones tend to have relatively high rates
of participation in college or university-bound courses. This result
particularly holds in Vancouver, where allophones are nearly three times
more likely to take these courses than English-speaking students.
However, the study found that there are substantial differences in
these odds when data are separated by linguistic subgroup. For example,
while Chinese-speaking students consistently outperform their English or
French-speaking counterparts, Spanish, Portuguese, and Creole subgroups
tend to have rates of academic success far below those of other
Due to the differences in results for linguistic subgroups, Ledent
and his colleagues state that a “one size fits all” policy for immigrant
origin students is not evidence-based.
“When it comes to developing services aimed at easing the integration
of students with an immigrant origin in our schools, decision-makers
should avoid viewing those students as a uniform whole and instead
devise programs that are tailored to specific subgroups”, Ledent
The study also examined which variables consistently influence the
academic successes of allophones in the Canadian school system. It
discovered that the most significant positive factors on their
achievement are 1) entering school early or on time, age-wise, 2)
remaining in the same school rather than changing schools, and 3)
attending private schools.
A summary of the study can be found at the Population Change and
Lifecourse Cluster Research Brief:
Academic Performance and Educational Pathways of Allophone Youth: A
Comparative Analysis of Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver
For further information, please contact Jacques
Ledent, Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS)
For the INRS news on this study, see:
Les élèves allophones du Canada affichent une meilleure réussite