ESL: The LINC You’ve Been Missing

by Nelson Alvarado and LINC 5 Students

Most newcomers to Canada agree that in order to find good jobs and get integrated into Canadian society they must improve their language skills. Until recently many, or even most, LINC and ESL programs were delivered in obscure buildings where students did not have access to many modern facilities.

A perfect example of recent “improvements” is the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s Eglinton LINC and ESL Centre; students study in spacious, well-equipped classrooms with a large open-concept computer lab where they can search the internet and check their emails. Special software installed on each computer makes this learning experience pleasurable. Students have many different options: they can practice grammar, learn about Canadian geography, history, culture, write academic essays or prepare their own presentations. The open-concept design of The Eglinton LINC & ESL Centre enables students to improve their communication skills not only in the classroom but also through constant interaction with all staff members and students of other levels.

The new Centre is located in the very heart of the city – at 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 200, one block east of the Eglinton subway station. It was opened on May 1st 2007 with ten students in attendance and now it has well over a hundred! This rapid increase in number is due to the high quality of the programs offered at the centre.

Hours are flexible and newcomers can attend different LINC levels (from 1 to 7). For example, my friends and I are studying in the day program from Monday to Friday (9:00 am to 11:30 am – 12:00 pm to 2:30 pm). Some classmates also take evening classes to improve their conversational skills. Those students who have already found jobs can attend weekends (Saturday classes) programs. The Centre also provides special academic preparation classes (essay writing with elements of TOEFL and IELTS).

With the Centre’s excellent childminding program, parents and children can come to school together. While parents polish up their English, their children learn new English words, sing songs and acquire physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive skills. The Centre also has a very well equipped lunch room where students and their children can enjoy their meals together.

Since the Centre is funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, most students who do not live nearby receive transportation assistance. We all wish that there would be more centres similar to this Centre! For more information on the TCDSB Eglinton LINC and ESL Centre, call (416) 397-6196.

CNM