English as a Second Language - ESL
By Eva Dlouhy
Photo by: Eva Dlouhy
I know how hard and difficult it is to leave your own country,
settle in a new place and environment, and learn a new language
as I, too, came here as an immigrant more than 20 years ago with
my husband and then three year old son from the former
Czechoslovakia, where we escaped communism.
Not knowing much English, I was pleased to have the opportunity to learn the language once I arrived in London. At that time, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes were offered at Fanshawe College, in a few churches, and at libraries. There were also evening programs offered at a few public schools.
After finishing my course in ESL at Fanshawe College, I was eager to learn more and I continued studying through ESL programs in local libraries, attending evening classes and I also started volunteering at public schools. I used to be an elementary teacher in the former Czechoslovakia, where I developed my passion for teaching. Eventually I earned my Ontario Teaching Certificate diploma and started working as a supply teacher (filling in for absent teachers) at public elementary schools in London. Later on I began teaching the ESL program for adult immigrants.
I am very pleased to say that the ESL program for adults in London has expanded dramatically since I arrived. London has lots to offer to new immigrants and other people who come to the city. There are ESL programs for adult students all around the City of London, with day care facilities for children so that adults can study while their children are being cared for.
I have been teaching now for 15 years and in the last five years I have been educating adult immigrants at the Wheable Centre for Adult Education or Wheable as it is commonly known. Wheable has open registration, where students can apply at any time throughout the year at the beginning of each term. To be accepted, one requires a Student permit, proof of immigration and/or Canadian citizenship. Each term lasts seven weeks and the fee is $15 per term. Upon arrival to the program, each student has to be assessed via an oral and written exam for their skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing in English by an assessor. Students are then placed in the appropriate class along with classmates who have similar skills, which are called benchmarks. Classes begin at Pre-Benchmark and then continue up to Benchmark 8. Upon achievement of Benchmark 6 in all subjects of listening, speaking, reading and writing, students can then take credit courses, computer courses, etc to upgrade their education in English.
There are also programs available at several schools in London and area including Lorne Avenue Public School and Sir Frederick Banting Annex. After completing an ESL program, students can continue their education at institutions such as Fanshawe College or Westervelt College. There is also an Employment Resource Centre at Wheable where students can get information, facts, statistics, and help to break down the barriers to employment. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). A helpful resource for new immigrants to London is the Cross Cultural Learner Centre, which provides support and information to people upon request.
I am pleased to see students from different countries studying hard, improving their English and focusing on their dreams to become good citizens. My students quickly learn that the best thing about coming to ESL classes is that there is a friendly atmosphere between students and teachers. They learn about the Canadian lifestyle and meet new friends while learning the language. And, that is what they appreciate as much as the lessons!
Eva Dlouhy is an experienced ESL teacher at The Wheable Centre for Adult Education in London, Ontario.