Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

First Advisor

Ku, Jane


English as Second Language, Identity, Immigration Candidates, Integration Process



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Among the fast-growing population of international students in Canada, China has been the leading source country. While existing studies give us a bright idea of obstacles faced by international students in transition to permanent residents, there is little information from the perspective of international students. Therefore, we know far less from their perspective as well as how they interpret and negotiate with these experiences. Language barriers are identified as among the most prominent obstacles affecting international students' academic, social and economic integration. I seek to understand the social impacts of the language barrier and the process of overcoming it. By examining the transition of Chinese graduates from a Canadian University – University of Windsor, this study investigates (a) graduates' experiences of ESL (English as the second language) in their daily life and (b) their social and career experience as part of their integration into Canadian society. Based on the qualitative data collected, the significant finding is: (a) The ESL learning experience has both negative and positive impacts on integration process and the use of English proficiency as investment resources in social integration is much slower than that in academic integration and economic integration. (b) The motivation of ESL learning is interrelated with highly valued resources, like reliable positions and work environments, interethnic friendship, positive self-identification, and attachment to linguistic community membership. Moreover, the acquisition of the second language and the use of the first language co-construct the new identity in the host society.