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December 3, 2010

Students in Camosun's ESL classes come from all over the world, range widely in their career and educational backgrounds, and have a variety of educational goals. But despite this eclectic mix, there is still plenty of common ground that unites these adult students, helping them succeed in a new culture and a difficult language.

One thing that students Ikuko Meguriya and Joy Xing have in common is their excellent writing skills, honed in Camosun's higher-level ESL classes. Both placed well in a contest recently sponsored by the Association of BC Teachers of English as an Additional Language—BC TEAL: Ikuko took first place for her essay, "The Colourful Scenery in my Life," and Joy received an honourable mention for "English Opens a New World to Me."

Ikuko Meguriya

Ikuko Meguriya

Writing helped Ikuko find her way

Ikuko, who has a degree in English Literature from a university in Japan, came to Canada eight years ago to study English. She met and married a Canadian man but, in a tragic turn of events, he became ill and passed away two years ago. Not knowing what to do or where to go, Ikuko accepted an invitation to visit a friend in Victoria. It wasn't long before she decided to enrol in English at Camosun. Things were very difficult for her at first, but gradually Ikuko started to express her feelings and insights through her writing. "I wrote about what I felt about life. The teachers saw what I really meant and encouraged me to write more. They gave me really useful feedback, not only about grammar and language, but also about how they felt about what I said."

Ikuko is still uncertain about her future. "I thought I wanted to go into social work, but I'm not 100% sure; I'm still exploring. Camosun offers so many courses and subjects, it's a good place to see what fits."

Joy Xing

Joy Xing

Experiencing a bigger world

Joy comes from China, where she earned a bachelor's degree in business. She has visited and lived in many places in Canada, but eventually decided to settle in Victoria. "It's really pretty here, people are friendly and the climate is very good."

In her essay, Joy writes, "When I was little, I was fascinated about foreign fairy tales and movies like 'Cinderella' and 'Gone with the Wind'. When I realized that reading scripts and watching movies in the original English made me understand the plots better, I had a dream to travel abroad." Joy wanted to see the scenery she read about in books and saw in the movies, so she came to Canada to check things out for herself. She says she has made friends from Portugal, Japan, Saudi Arabia and other places, and her world is now bigger than ever before.

ESL at Camosun prepares students for academic studies and career options

The thing that sets Camosun's ESL studies apart from other schools is the focus on academic preparation. Many newcomers have high levels of education, and want to improve their English to express themselves academically as well as socially. Course options range from foundations levels, all the way up to the grade 12 level. Students graduating from the highest levels are ready for post-secondary studies, including Camosun's English 150, a first-year prerequisite that is accepted at most other BC colleges and universities.

Joy studied English at a university ESL class before coming to Camosun. "I find it's different studying here because Camosun College has an academic environment. Studying here is not just about having fun—they also prepare you to go to university. We learned useful skills to help in the college and university study environment. For example, at the very beginning, my instructor taught us how to do presentations, how to be confident when speaking in public, and how to find out important college information." Joy is currently enrolled in ELD 092 and 094 (grade 12-level English composition and English literature) and hopes to study Psychology. She looks forward to taking an Associate Degree, or starting university transfer courses in the near future.

Ikuko is currently enrolled in English 150. She says it's hard work, but she feels well-prepared. "I'm good at writing narrative stories, but my current teacher is asking me to write more technical English. That's hard because I'm a more emotional person, but I'm learning a lot."

Advice for new students

Ikuko and Joy both recommend studying English at Camosun College, and have a bit of advice for new students. "Just start, even if you are a busy person," says Ikuko. "It's hard to start, but once you get going, you can do it." She also suggests students just take one class at a time to get the most out of the process. Joy says, "Just open your mind, speak out, and follow the instruction. But, most importantly, don't be shy!"

Choose Camosun for ESL

Each year, Camosun helps over 775 students improve their English and prepare to study and live in Canada.

Here are just some of the reasons to choose Camosun:

  • highly qualified instructors and small classes for personal assistance
  • curriculum with a focus on academic preparation for college and university
  • all levels of classes, from beginner to college preparation
  • support services to help students succeed
  • connections to new friends, mentors and social activities

Last updated: December 6, 2010 9:01 am

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