Language is a cornerstone for many newcomers in their journey toward successful integration and achieving settlement goals. Since 1998, Global Gathering Place has worked to establish dynamic, effective, and welcoming learning spaces for newcomers to improve their English language skills in its various English as a Subsequent Language (ESL) classes.
GGP now offers 30 ESL classes for clients from varying levels, backgrounds, and needs through our LINC, Stage 1&2 English, Communication Circle, and IDEAS programs. During the pandemic, we shifted most classes online while others use a blended model. Some classes are fully onsite, accommodating students with very low English and digital literacy skills.
We recently heard from over 400 clients during our annual student surveys, and they gave incredible feedback about how their ESL classes are impacting their daily lives and why they continue to choose GGP for their language learning.
So why do ESL learners choose to study at GGP? They choose GGP to…
1. Improve everyday communication skills
It may seem obvious, but the main reason to attend ESL classes is to improve your English for your everyday communication needs. Newcomers to Canada need English for a range of simple to complex activities, including social situations, employment needs, accessing services, and routine day-to-day activities.
In 2020-2021, over 99% of survey participants agreed that their ESL class helped them improve their overall English abilities!
2. Build confidence and independence
GGP focuses on what learners can do with their English and encourages them to apply their learning in life beyond the classroom. The result is an increase in confidence and independence in everyday life.
98% of survey participants felt their studies have increased their confidence to use English with an additional 95% reporting greater independence.
3. Achieve language and settlement goals
Refugees and immigrants come to GGP with a variety of language-learning goals, from making small talk with neighbours, understanding instructions from a doctor, or completing a CLB level to advance career prospects or gain citizenship.
GGP’s student-centered approach helps learners identify their language learning priorities and goals in order to create the most effective learning experience for all students.
4. Become employment ready
For many students, employment is a key motivator in learning English. Clients require language skills to navigate the job search process and succeed in the workplace.
Over 80% of ESL students agree that their classes help them learn about working in Canada, including how to find a job and how to communicate at work. These critical skills have a big impact on students’ settlement and employment success.
5. Work with friendly, knowledgeable, and skilled instructors, volunteers, and staff
GGP’s instructors are experienced, well-educated individuals with a passion for teaching. They strive to create a positive, fun, and rewarding learning experience for all students.
Survey participants agree that:
- Our teachers are supportive (97%)
- They provide fun and useful lessons (95%)
- And treat all students equally (95%)
In addition to passionate teachers, students love GGP’s welcoming and helpful staff and volunteers who are always eager to help and make GGP feel like a second home. Students say:
“I have a volunteer who helped me a lot to learn in English and to be more confident.” -LINC CLB 3-4 student
“Just thank the entire GGP team as they have always made me feel at home.”
-Stage 2 CLB 6-7 student
6. Learn practical information about life in Canada and the Saskatoon community
Learning ESL is so much more than just listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Our students also build critical knowledge to help them understand and navigate Canadian culture, health care systems, workplace and social situations, community services, and so much more.
In fact, 93% of survey respondents feel that their class has taught them valuable information about the Saskatoon community. That warms our hearts.
7. Learn in a supportive, fun, and friendly atmosphere
Learning a new language is not easy; that’s why it’s so important that ESL classes are safe and supportive spaces for students to learn and grow in their abilities. Learners are encouraged to build connections, support one another, and try their best no matter where they are in their language ability.
ESL classrooms also provide an opportunity to build friendships and support networks with people with similar goals, backgrounds, or interests from all over the world. This helps combat feelings of isolation or loneliness.
8. To learn when (and where) works for them
It is no surprise that our diverse group of students have a wide variety of requirements when it comes to choosing a class that meets their needs. GGP’s ESL programming works to provide opportunities for a range of language learners, including refugees, permanent residents, work permit holders, and new Canadian citizens.
With programming during the daytime, evenings, and weekends, GGP strives to remove students’ barriers to learning every way that we can.
Since March 2020, our programming has grown to include both blended and online options, which some learners prefer for the added convenience.
9. To receive 360° support
GGP students benefit from a range of support services that help them access language classes. Care for Newcomer Children (CNC) provides childminding services to students with both on-site and online options.
Students with exceptionalities, such as visual impairments, also receive specialized supports from staff (and GGP’s community partners) to help make our classrooms as accessible and effective as possible for all participants.
ESL classes are also a bridge to many other GGP programs that help clients build skills, learn about their new home, and feel connected and engaged in their new community.
10. Because it’s free!
Did you know that learning ESL at GGP is completely free for students? Thanks to our funders, including both the Government of Canada and Government of Saskatchewan, newcomers have access to high-quality language learning at no cost. Funding ESL programs is an investment into Canada’s workforce and future.
Our students are so grateful to our funders and to GGP for this opportunity. Here are what some students say:
“Thank you. This is unbelievable opportunity to learn English.”
-Stage 2 CLB 5-6 student
“I hope GGP will give more ESL opportunities to the Canadian immigrants and citizens. I want to convey THANKS to the coordinators for doing all the great programs to improve the community.” -Communication Circle student
“Thank you so much GGP for giving us the opportunity to learn English.”
-IDEAS 2 student