Multicultural groups and businesses in Moncton are busy preparing for the looming demand for language educators when the influx of Syrian refugees come into the province.
While no firm date has been determined for the arrival of refugees from the war-torn, Arabic-speaking country, those involved with language training in Moncton are preparing for their arrival.
One of the chief questions is who will provide that training to the refugees.
Justin Ryan, the public education and communications co-ordinator at the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton area, says his organization already provides this service to immigrants, however, they were at maximum capacity before the crisis even developed in Syria.
'We are also putting out the call for others who are qualified to teach that are not yet currently employed.' - Jesse Kerpan, McKenzie Language Learning Centre
"The waiting list for the language classes themselves have been extremely long, particularly at the lower levels, which is where we are anticipating the bulk of refugees coming through will be at," he says.
"So that's already strained well beyond capacity."
Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Francine Landry, who is the lead cabinet minister responsible for the Syrian refugee program, has said 300 refugees will be in the province before the end of December.
She also said the province expects to welcome 1,500 Syrian refugees.
More money isn't an immediate fix
While more funding hasn't been confirmed from the government, Ryan says that isn't an immediate solution either.
"That doesn't immediately turn itself into recruited, trained, ESL teachers in a spare classroom in a building," he says.
Ryan says the private sector might be an option to fill the gap in provision of language training services.
Being a city with a growing multicultural community in a bilingual province, Moncton has a number of private companies teaching English and French and a quick scan of online classified ads reveals a number of people willing to help.
"The private sector will potentially become part of the solution, depending how quickly funding comes through," he says.
The problem, according to Ryan, is that there's still no idea of how many refugees are coming and if government funding will be sufficient to cover that training.
Businesses ready to help
McKenzie Language Learning Centre is the type of private company Ryan is referring to, and plans are already being put in place there to prepare for the refugees.
Jesse Kerpan, the facility's co-ordinator, says he is hopeful that his business will be able to help meet the need for more language teachers.
He said the company's building has a number of unused rooms.
"So it would be very easy for us to [expand]," he says.
Kerpan says there are four English instructors and five to six French instructors.
The company is hiring as well.
"We are also putting out the call for others who are qualified to teach that are not yet currently employed," he says.
Choosing a language
Being a bilingual province, the question remains as to what language the refugees will learn.
Ryan says the multicultural association has no plan in place to assign one particular language over the other and that they consult with clients to determine their linguistic needs.
"If they're very proficient in English, but they still want to fit into the community, then French is going to be a priority for them to pick up, especially if they want to go into a professional entrepreneurial setting," says Ryan.
"Part of the process of them coming in is that language is one of the elements we assess and say, "What are your needs?" and we direct them to the appropriate language."
The multicultural association says one of the ways the public can help Syrian refugees develop their language skills is by volunteering in a conversation group.