Report by young immigrants and refugees urges credit for ESL classes

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      A group of young immigrants and refugees has ranked improved language policies at the top of a list of recommendations that could improve the lives of newcomers to Canada.

      Their policy suggestions are outlined in an October 1 report titled “Fresh Voices From Long Journeys: Insights of Immigrant and Refugee Youth”. The document proposes allowing English-language classes to count toward high-school graduation and implementing a credit program for foreign languages that students speak at home.

      “Immigrants and refugee youth feel the school system here is not really inclusive of other languages,” the report states.

      Dina Ganan Perez is part of a team that spent more than two years working on the project. In a telephone interview, the 18-year-old refugee from Colombia told the Straight that learning English was a significant struggle upon her family’s arrival to Canada in 2005.

      “It put me behind because I had to catch up, not only with English but in all of my other classes,” she recounted in a telephone interview. “I thought, ‘Wow, a language that is supposed to be taking me forward among my peers is leaving me behind.’ ”

      If credits were given for English Language Learning classes (also known as English as a Second Language), Perez said she would have had an easier time keeping up in school. She questioned why English-speaking students get credit for Spanish classes while ESL students don’t get credit for English courses of an equal calibre.

      According to Statistics Canada, in 2011 only 56 percent of Lower Mainland residents reported English as a first language.

      The “Fresh Voices” report was produced in partnership with the Vancouver Foundation and Representatives for Children and Youth. Other recommendations listed in the document include suggestions for how to better bring together different cultural groups and how to improve education and employment opportunities for immigrants and refugees new to Canada.

      You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at twitter.com/tlupick.

      Comments

      3 Comments

      Ludicrous Liposuction

      Oct 3, 2013 at 8:40am

      "She questioned why English-speaking students get credit for Spanish classes while ESL students don’t get credit for English courses of an equal calibre."

      That's because native English speaking students are expected to already have an ability to speak, read, and write English at a much higher level than the foreign language being studied. Because the foreign student's English ability is not at the higher level of the native speaker is why they need to study "English as a SECOND Language". The Spanish speaking students can already get any an easy credit by taking Spanish classes starting at the basic level. Native speaking Canadians should get easy credits by taking basic ESL. Why discriminate against native speakers?

      Instead of trying to turn their handicap into an asset here with free English classes paid for by Canadian taxpayers, just go back to your own countries, pay money to study English there and get credits there. Then try to use the credits for school admission here.

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      Nathalie

      Oct 3, 2013 at 9:24pm

      Well...I am an immigrant...I didn't get credits for taking ELL (ESL) English Language Learners given that often English is not the second but the fourth or fifth language classes. Anyways, it took me longer to graduate not because I hadn't learned English but because I didn't get credit for any of my ELL classes. On the other hand I received credit for cooking, sewing, metal work and other subjects that in my opinion weren't hard work compared to ELL.
      And FYI:
      1) I do pay taxes and I have been paying taxes since the first day I came to this country.
      2) You are contradicting yourself...are you then saying that "native English speakers" shouldn't get credit for taking English classes?

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      Mary, Australia

      Oct 6, 2013 at 6:40pm

      So, Ludicrous Liposuction, what languages other than English are you expert in? Mandarin? Farsi?

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