Program builds language bridges for newcomers

Language program to help new citizens learn English

  • Sep. 14, 2011 12:00 p.m.

Newcomers to Canada face challenges that those of us born here never give a second thought about. A child with a fever of 101 degrees means a trip to the Diagnostic Centre but if you don’t speak English phoning for an appointment is just the first in a series of language hurdles. Report card time and sitting one on one at the parent teacher meeting is very intimidating especially when you haven’t been able to read the report card. Opening bank accounts, mailing a parcel, having a prescription filled, getting a haircut, activities that happen many times every day in Keremeos are very stressful when you just don’t have the words to use. And worse: imagine when the person across the counter looks back at you, shrugs their shoulders and shakes their head.

Fortunately, these daily events don’t have to remain a source of embarrassment and confusion. Residents of Keremeos and surrounding communities can take advantage of free weekly English lessons. The Lower Similkameen Community Services Society, under contract with BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation provide newcomers with instruction tailored to meet an individual’s immediate and long term goals. Well trained volunteers commit to working one on one to help learners not only develop language skills but also understand  about life in Canada and ultimately to become  Canadian citizens.  Learners and tutors explore novels, sometimes take a stroll along Main Street, rehearse calling for information, occasionally practice ordering a meal in a restaurant and often -between grammar lessons or pronunciation exercises – just drink tea and chat.

Over the weeks and months learners gain skills in the four target areas … speaking, listening, reading and writing.  Learners gain new confidence to tackle tasks that before they avoided or delegated. Phoning for a doctor’s appointment or parent – teacher meetings stop being “nail biters.”

If you know a newcomer (or someone who has been here for a while but has not had the opportunity to gain very much English) help them make the call to start building language bridges.

Call: Andrea Massing

English Language Training Center 310 Veterans Avenue.

Phone: (250) 499 – 2352 Ext 109 or email:

And if you or someone you know are interested in finding out about becoming a volunteer tutor call the above number.

A program of the Lower Similkameen Community Services Society.



Lower Similkameen Community Services Society




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