ELS workshops will equip students with critical language skills
Learning a new language is a unique struggle for students navigating university life. Most of us are already dealing with anxiety about the future, but students who didn’t learn English as their first language face many other obstacles.
Fortunately, Capilano University’s English Learning Support (ELS) Centre is here to help students who are learning English on their journey in the academic world. This semester, the ELS Centre will be hosting a series of workshops that focus on a range of writing and speaking skills. Workshops will be held on Wednesdays from 11:30 am to 12:50 pm, the first of which took place on Jan. 25.
“Writing and speaking are the two areas non-native [English] speakers have the most concerns with,” said ELS faculty liaison Rachelle Jorgenson. In particular, non-native English speakers often struggle most with oral presentations, academic debate and confidently speaking during group discussions. The workshops have been designed to help students build confidence in those areas through experiential learning and interaction with other students.
When it comes to writing, Jorgenson explained that non-native English speakers often struggle with cohesive sentence structure and integrating evidence in academic writing. The workshops will aim to help students communicate clearly and concisely through their writing.
ELS workshop attendees can also look forward to a session on pronunciation, an area that Jorgenson specializes in. Likening speech to rhythm and music, she explained that every language requires speakers to place stress on different words and sounds. Using clapping and singing is a fun, effective way to help students practice pronunciation. Since peer interaction is so valuable in learning, partner and group exercises are also incorporated into the workshops.
Since ELS formed in the fall semester of 2015, Jorgenson has helped to create an integral support network for students who are learning English. After many years of teaching English in Japan, she continued her journey here at CapU’s English for Academic Purposes (EAP) department in mid-2014.
With a mandate to help non-native English speaking students, ELS mainly provides support through one-on-one assistance with reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Many of the ELS staff have lived in other countries around the world, making them uniquely qualified to provide the support that students learning English need. “[We] know what it’s like to speak another language, so we have that sympathy,” Jorgenson explained. “We can completely understand how difficult it is. It’s a long journey for these students.”
While the ELS workshops are geared towards non-native-speaking students, domestic and international students who feel they need support with the given topics are welcome to attend. For fluent English speakers who are interested in meeting new people, the department also hosts weekly English Chat Café meet-ups. Every Thursday from 11:30 am to 1 pm, non-native English speakers can meet and chat with fluent English-speaking peer mentors. Students can look forward to making new friends and building confidence in speaking, all while enjoying cookies and a warm cup of coffee or tea.
By facilitating communication and the exchange of ideas between students across the campus, the department is one step closer to reaching its goals. “If [students] have a chance to do these activities together, that’s creating a campus culture and a community of learners,” said Jorgenson.
She welcomes students from all departments to participate in ELS workshops and attend English Chat Cafe sessions.
Workshops and Chat Cafes will take place in BR 323. Additional information and a complete list of workshop dates can be found online at capilanou.ca/programs-courses.
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