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The Linguistic Journey of Russian-Speaking Immigrants in Canada



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Immigration to a new country begins with a process of adapting into a new society which is also known as acculturation (Berry, 1997). The study focuses on one type of integration strategy described by Berry (1997) strategies as the bidimensional model of acculturation, which refers to an orientation to support both home and host cultures. The number of Russian-speaking immigrants in Canada is growing (Statistics Canada, 2011; Statistics Canada, 2016). However, relatively few studies have explored the experiences of this particular immigrant population. The present research aims to describe the linguistic journey of Russian-speaking immigrants, particularly the connections between the language use by Russian-speaking immigrants and an acculturation process experienced by them after moving to Canada. Specifically, it examines the ways that Russian-speaking immigrants adapt to Canadian society, learn English and French, and at the same time maintain the culture of their home country and preserve the Russian language. My findings are based on the responses of 100 Russian-speaking immigrants from seven provinces in Canada who took part in an online questionnaire which contained questions about linguistic use and preferences, adaptation process, and immigration experience. The data were analyzed using Chi-square test and Pearson correlation. The study shows that the surveyed Russian-speaking immigrants can successfully balance between supporting both cultures and languages. The results also demonstrate that the importance of English / French learning and maintenance of Russian among participants changes over time, with priority shifting from learning English to maintaining Russian. Actions that can help to ease adaptation include the active use of the official languages, learning the history and cultural aspects of Canada, and the use of local media. The home culture can be maintained by using the Russian language more, having Russian-speaking friends, reading books and watching movies in Russian. The present study expands the acculturation theory of Russian-speaking immigrants in Canada and can be used in creating a better environment for newcomers.



Russian-speaking immigrants, immigration, Canada, cultural acculturation, linguistic acculturation



Master of Arts (M.A.)






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