New summer program to help young newcomers practice English

This month the province launched a new summer language program, to help young newcomers learn English and better prepare them for school in Canada.

EAL summer school being offered to grades 1-9 for the first time this year

German Ivkovich wasn't sure about spending his summer in a classroom, 'but then I thought, "Oh my God, this is awesome,"' he said. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

It's a different kind of summer school: games and excursions to help young newcomers practice their English language skills.

English as an Additional Language teacher Jeremy Hogan says the more laid-back summer vibe helps students focus on conversation.

"Being here in the summer without that academic pressure makes concentrating on just their English skills much easier for them," said Hogan.

This month the province launched a new summer language program, to help young newcomers learn English and better prepare them for school in Canada.

Learning through experience

Until now, EAL summer programs were reserved for high school aged children. This year, that's expanded to include grades 1 through 9.

The three-week-long course — being offered throughout the summer — is delivered by EAL teachers and youth assistants.

'Being here in the summer without that academic pressure makes concentrating on just their English skills much easier for them,' says EAL teacher Jeremy Hogan.

Hogan said the focus is on helping students learn English through experience, both inside the classroom and on field trips throughout Charlottetown.

"Going to the pool, Victoria Park, scavenger hunts ... this is a great way to get them to know their community, and learn about how to go about their community safely, and learn about vocabulary while they are doing it," said Hogan.  

'Oh my God, this is awesome'

Many of the students participating in the program are still quite new to the Island, and are learning English from scratch.

Student German Ivkovich arrived in Charlottetown less than a year ago from Russia and said he wasn't quite sure about the idea of spending time in a classroom this summer.

"But then I thought, 'Oh my God, this is awesome,'" said Ivkovich. "Because we're going swimming sometimes, we're doing some activities, like today we will go bowling, today we learn about clothing and food."

Makes it easier in September

Some of the students are refugees, and may have had very little in terms of formal education, Hogan said.

The hope is that the program, and the less formal setting, will not only help improve their English, but also make heading to class in September a lot less daunting.

"It's fun, and if they have fun when they are learning the language they retain a lot more," said Hogan.  

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About the Author

Jessica Doria-Brown

Videojournalist

Jessica Doria-Brown is a videojournalist with CBC in P.E.I. Originally from Toronto, Jessica has worked for CBC in Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, and Ontario.