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July 4, 2016 2:14 PM

English language training connects newcomers to the community

More than 30 student volunteers, along with program representatives from Conestoga’s LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) program, hosted a community information booth at the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Festival, held June 25 and 26 in Kitchener’s Victoria Park. The festival provided the volunteers with an opportunity to meet other members of the community, practice language skills and share their LINC experiences.

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Student Li Yi-Fen met community members and practiced her language skills when she volunteered at the LINC booth at the K-W Multicultural Festival on June 25.

Launched in 2008 at Conestoga, LINC provides English language classes to permanent residents or individuals with refugee status to assist with their integration into employment and community life. English language training is available at various levels and the program is federally-funded through Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada so participants can attend at no cost. Crystal Brown, associate chair of The Conestoga Language Institute, said LINC serves 850 to 900 individuals over the course of the year and works with each student to set individual language learning goals. Classes are offered in Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo and participants must be 18 years or older.

The multicultural festival showcased culturally diverse performances, international artisans and food from around the world and organizers believe close to 50,000 attendees took part in the activities over the course of the weekend. The LINC booth provided visitors with information about Conestoga and LINC’s language skills program.

Li Yi-Fen, who moved to Canada from Taiwan last year with her husband and children, volunteered at the booth and said it gave her a chance to make friends and improve her language skills. She brought her family to Waterloo region because it was quieter than Toronto and Conestoga and the local universities offered many education options for her sons. She said she liked LINC “very much” and praised instructors for the time they spend preparing various topics. In just a few months she has improved her speaking and listening skills, but said she still needs to work on reading and writing.

Cuong Tong left Vietnam and arrived in Canada just four months ago and is also attending LINC. Like Yi-Fen, he likes the region and hopes to gain employment as his English improves.

In addition to language training for community life and employment purposes, Brown said some LINC students also enrol in other Conestoga programs after attaining the necessary English language skills. In May, students were invited to participate in the LINC to Conestoga event, which offered a tour of the Doon campus and an opportunity to find out more information about various post-secondary programming options. Representatives from Business, Trades, Health, Admissions, English Language Studies, the Career Centre and Student Financial Services gave presentations to interested students to help them pursue their next step in education, re-certification or post-degree options.

The Conestoga Language Institute also offers a four-semester English for Academic Studies program to prepare individuals for college or university studies; Occupation Specific Language Training; courses and programs in a wide variety of languages, including French, German, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin; and a professional, post-degree certificate program in Teaching English as a Second Language that prepares individuals to teach ESL to adults in a variety of settings.

For more information, visit the LINC website

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