The Vancouver Public Library has just launched 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.
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 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,” Madigan said.
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.