The YMCA Learning and Career Centre has found a free and effective way for newcomers to learn the English language and about their new community — by reading The Sarnia Journal.
The English as a Second Language students use the paper as a resource in reading and writing instruction, but also as a way to find out what’s important to Canadians, said Joleen Vanderheide, one of the instructors.
“That’s a real key part of this program… to be relevant and part of the community and introduce Canadian culture and Canadian values,” she said.
Newly arrived families, for example, use the “What’s Happening” section to find community events they might participate in.
As they advance, they learn to read articles and to respond to them through “practice” letters to the editor.
“People learn that here in Canada we’re free to express our opinions about things,” Vanderheide said.
Students from around the world participate in five different levels of YMCA English programs, which average 10 to 15 students per class.