Vancouver Public Library Launches Talk for SUCCESS: An ESL English Corner for Newcomers to Canada

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The Vancouver Public Library launches a conversational English drop in program as part of its multicultural services platform in conjunction with community partners S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and L2 Accent Reduction Centre.

L2 Accent Reduction Centre at Vancouver Public Library

Talk for SUCCESS: An ESL English Corner for Newcomers to Canada

Another big problem here locally is that people rarely step out of their comfort zone and predominately live within their own ethnic cluster

On September 4th, 2012, the Vancouver Public Library will launch a new program to assist new comers to Canada called "Talk for Success: ESL English Corner". The free drop in class aims to provide newcomers with more opportunities to practice spoken English so that they are better able to integrate successfully into the Canadian labour market.

Spoken skills is one of the hardest aspects of mastering the English language for many newcomers to Canada. Research that evaluated the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada Program showed that gains in spoken English were minimal after 1000 hours of class time. One of the reasons for the small gains is believed to be due to the lack of opportunities for newcomers to use their spoken English skills outside of the classroom. The ESL English Corner is a way to provide more opportunities for newcomers to enhance their speaking skills outside of the classroom.

Suddhodan Baiya, Labour Market Specialist at S.U.C.C.E.S.S., and one of the facilitators of the drop in program, says that improving the ability to speak in casual situations has benefits that go beyond language skills.
"If a person feels comfortable using English, then they will be able to network, meet more people, and have more confidence and optimism about their decision to have immigrated. People like that have much more success when it comes to finding work."

Suddhodan himself knows first hand how draining the search for employment can be having gone through the process himself a few years ago. And it wasn't his first time. Suddhodan was born and raised in Nepal but immigrated many times in his life to India, Indonesia, and China before arriving in Canada. For him, English isn't his second language, it is his fifth. "I really know how important learning a language is when you move to a new country and I've never been shy about jumping in and trying a new language skill." Suddhodan says.

Jeff Madigan, co-facilitator of ESL English Corner and instructor at L2 Accent Reduction Centre, admits that a majority of the time, English language learning puts a stronger emphasis on the other skills of reading, grammar, and writing, than it does on spoken English. "And a big problem here locally", says Madigan, "is that people rarely step out of their comfort zone and predominately live within their own ethnic cluster. This reduces their ability to improve their spoken English." This new program hosted by the Vancouver Public Library is a step towards opening the door to help new comers build their competency in spoken English.

The L2 Accent Reduction Centre, established in 2008, predominately works internationally trained professionals. Although they may be entirely fluent by many standard measurements, they are looking to refine their English even more since many aspects of spoken English, such as pronunciation, idiomatic expressions, corporate jargon, and even tone of voice, can create barriers for career advancement.

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