Active learning for active ageing : Chinese senior immigrants’ lifelong learning in Canada

Yidan ZHU*, Weiguo ZHANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the intersection between migration, aging and lifelong learning with the aim of expanding our understanding of how lifelong learning enhances older migrants’ active aging in a foreign land. Our study also offers insights into the learning activities of older immigrants in general. In 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed a conceptual framework of active aging, which has greatly influenced aging policies and seniors’ everyday practices. Yet, there is a paucity of research that explicates and fully integrates lifelong learning into active aging discourse, and focuses on senior immigrants’ lifelong learning in an aging society. Based on interviews, textual materials, and participatory observation in five Chinese seniors’ immigrant associations in Toronto, we explore how Chinese senior immigrants’ learning has been (re)shaped and practised through re-settling in Canadian society. Five categories of learning are explored, including a) learning language and computer skills, b) learning culture and history, c) learning civic engagement, d) learning leisure, and e) learning health. We argue that ‘active learning’ can be used as a dynamic conceptual framework that interacts with active aging theory, demonstrating how senior immigrants actively participate in the lifelong learning project for participation and integration in Canada. This paper provides insights to the understanding of culturally sensitive policy-making on integration, health, and lifelong learning of older immigrants in Canada and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-518
Number of pages13
JournalEducational Gerontology
Issue number8
Early online date5 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the Research and Scholarly Activity Fund, University of Toronto Mississauga, 2016.

We acknowledge the assistance provided by Ruoxi Wang. We are grateful to all older persons who participated in the interviews. An early version of this manuscript was presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association on Gerontology, Vancouver, October 18–20, 2018.


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