English language classes expand for ‘eager’ Syrian refugees

19 May English language classes expand for ‘eager’ Syrian refugees

English language classes expand for ‘eager’ Syrian refugees

Posted in The Hamilton Spectator on May 18, 2016
by Joel OpHardt, The Hamilton Spectator


english-classAt a glance, it looks like any other classroom.

More than a dozen students, both eager and reserved, watch their professor scribble notes on a whiteboard surrounded by a collection of colourful posters listing the basics of verb tenses, numbers — both cardinal and ordinal — days of the week, months, and human anatomy.

The challenge for the IWC is in bringing the group from Level 0 (virtually no English knowledge) to Level 1-2 (menial conversation in a familiar context) in listening and speaking English within a relatively short period.

“Some of our students had never even picked up a pencil before they got here,” said education co-ordinator Isabella Marchese. Other challenges include learning to read and write left to right, something that can require significant attention for older students.

But the group has been incredibly motivated said co-ordinator Wasan Mohamad.
“After 10 days they said themselves ‘no more Arabic'” in the classroom.

Hayo himself says he has been trying to absorb as much English as possible, “learning like a baby,” by immersing himself, and building upon small successes. He hopes the IWC will be able to continue to offer evening programming beyond the mid-June cut off.

Rios says at this point there is no funding beyond mid-June. She isn’t sure there is a willingness to continue the program, but the students will have the option to try to enter the daytime programs again.

Until then, Hussein plans to take things one step at a time.

“It’s like stairs — everyone we go up we will be better.”

Read the full article here.

Photo: STUDENT | Cathie Coward, The Hamilton Spectator