TORONTO – The important role of English as a Second Language (ESL) education for new Canadians is being celebrated across Ontario during ESL Week, taking place from
November 9-15, 2008. ESL Week is an annual celebration of ESL education and learning that is growing in popularity across the province, and has the support of several communities, thousands of ESL teachers, students, and many learning institutions and school boards.
“When people first come to Canada with either no or little understanding of English, they often feel isolated, which can have significant drawbacks both to the individual as well as our society,” says Renate Tilson, executive director, TESL Ontario. “Our goal is to help these new Canadians – immigrants, refugees and international students -- learn English so they can communicate confidently be employable and highly productive citizens of Ontario, as well as Canada. ESL Week was designed to help Canadians understand the critical role of ESL education in our society.”
ESL Week has been declared by many communities across Ontario including: Toronto, York Region, Norfolk County, Fort Erie, Ajax, Clarington, Oshawa, Scugog, North Bay, Windsor, Oakville, Milton, Wainfleet, Burlington and Kingston. Many of the TESL Ontario affiliates in the participating centres have organized activities, including poster and writing contests, film festivals and art displays, in honour of ESL Week.
“ESL Week is also an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of our ESL instructors and teachers, and how they positively impact the lives of new Canadians,” adds Tilson. “An ESL instructor assists adult newcomers by teaching language skills, as well as providing support and counselling to ease their transition into Canadian society. Often ESL instructors take on the role of cultural interpreters. As well, teachers in Ontario elementary and secondary schools provide language programs to ensure that all students develop a level of proficiency in English required for success at school, in post secondary education and, eventually, in the work place.”
Says Laura Coronado, an ESL student at Park Place LINC Centre of the Toronto Catholic School Board: “The ESL program has guided me through the English language, as well as the Canadian culture. I have had the opportunity to know people from all over the world and to share with them experiences, trips and knowledge. From my experience, I can say that people who work for the ESL LINC program are highly qualified, sympathetic, helpful and really warm. Every day that I spend studying in the ESL program is making me confident and stronger about the future of my new Canadian life.”
Another highlight of ESL Week is the TESL Ontario conference that takes place November 13-15, in Toronto. The conference – Celebrating the International Year of Languages (as declared by UNESCO)-- is the largest convention of its kind in Canada and will host over 1400 delegates. The conference offers a variety of workshops, plenary speakers, research symposia and a panel discussion on a current ESL topic.
TESL Ontario is the association and certifying body for non-credit adult ESL instructors in Ontario. TESL Ontario represents more than 4,000 ESL professionals working in elementary and secondary schools; colleges and universities; private schools; and LINC and ESL sites across the province. The organization has developed expertise in areas of teacher certification, and professional and curriculum development. For more information, visit www.teslontario.org.
Ontario communities celebrate English as a Second Language Week