Nfld. & Labrador

Volunteer-run ESL classes to meet rising demand in Happy Valley-Goose Bay

A new volunteer-led course in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is hoping to meet the rising demand for newcomers in the area to learn basic English language skills.

'It can only grow,' says ANC's Nicky Townsend, who says there are more newcomers all the time

There has been demand for years for an English-language program for new Canadians in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for years, says Nicky Townsend. (Shutterstock)

A new volunteer-led course in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is hoping to meet the rising demand for newcomers in the area to learn basic English language skills.

Nicky Townsend, the Association of New Canadians' regional settlement co-ordinator, said it's been something the area has needed for a long time.

"It's really based on settlement skills, so the learners learn English based on what they need to know to settle in Canada," she said. "Things like finding a family doctor, finding a place to live, or sharing your culture with other people."

The eight-week course is about halfway through, and takes place Thursday evenings at the College of the North Atlantic campus.

About five people attended the first class, but Townsend said it's likely there are more people who would find the course useful.

Darren and Amanda Dinsmore are the volunteer instructors of the eight-week English skills program. (Submitted by Nicky Townsend)

However, since it's a pilot project, there isn't funding for it.

The instructors are volunteers Darren and Amanda Dinsmore, pastors of the Happy Valley Baptist Church, who are not officially trained, but have modeled the course after the national Language Instruction for Newcomers in Canada.

"We're trying to demonstrate the need for it and we're trying to meet an unmet need in the community, but we don't currently have qualified instructors and funding for the program," Townsend told CBC's Labrador Morning, who said the first few classes have been pretty good so far.

"They have some guidance from me, but they're also learning at the same time how to be instructors and how to lead the class, so there was a lot of newness in the air and excitement."

Townsend said the ANC has a one-on-one tutor position that the group will be hiring for to meet the demand with clients in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

It's been a long-standing need in the community, she said, adding that while she's been there only since June, she's heard from counterparts that it's been in demand for years.

"It can only grow. We have more and more people immigrating here and more temporary foreign workers and permanent residents and their families coming here all the time," she said.

"We really need to create this opportunity, because it's really not OK."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Labrador Morning

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