UCC-SB and English Language Delivery

A large number of newcomers, many of them skilled workers from Ukraine, have immigrated to Saskatoon in recent years. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Saskatoon Branch, Inc. (UCC-SB) office received many requests from these newcomers seeking settlement services.

The UCC-SB Standing Committee on Immigration developed an immigration model to assist newcomers to Saskatoon which included 5 overlapping stages: pre-arrival planning, initial contact, settlement, integration and retention. The need for English language delivery as a key element in successfully facilitating newcomer integration and retention into the Saskatoon community was quickly apparent. English language delivery was, and remains to this day, an important part of the integration and retention stage in assisting these newcomers.

Through meeting with its clients, UCC-SB discovered that most of the newcomers to Saskatoon lived in the north Saskatoon community of Lawson Heights. Not only did many have child care and transportation problems, but they were also ineligible for federally-funded English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. UCC-SB proceeded to meet the needs of newcomer immigrants by applying for and receiving a provincial government grant for the purpose of delivering ESL classes to temporary workers in the community where they lived. ESL classes commenced in May and continued through June 2007.

The following year, in January 2008, UCC-SB was awarded a government contract for the delivery of neighbourhood-based, adult-centered English language instruction based on Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) levels 1 to 4. Partnerships were established with the public school board and UCC-SB member organization, St. Petro Mohyla Institute to provide English language instruction in areas of Saskatoon that had a high concentration of newcomer residents. Teachers experienced in the functional/communicative approach to English language delivery were hired and instruction based on the CLB commenced. This highly-successful undertaking began with 3 classes and a total enrolment of 57 students; it was coordinated by UCC-SB’s Settlement Coordinator and a group of volunteers.

Due to the high demand for settlement services including ESL (200+ newcomers served since 2007) an ESL Coordinator was hired by UCC-SB in June 2008. Under the leadership of the ESL Coordinator, class enrolment increased from 40 students per term in 2007 to 150 in 2008. Besides Ukraine, students arrived from many different countries and began to attend UCC-SB classes. These countries of origin included Bosnia, China, Croatia, El Salvador, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Serbia, Sierra Leone and Vietnam. To further meet the needs of newcomers, UCC-SB summer English classes incorporated settlement-related needs such as banking, health care, transportation and grocery shopping into its curriculum.

In spite of the need to reduce class offerings from five to three because of insufficient government funding in 2009, UCC-SB ESL programming continued to be popular with local area resident immigrants. Community-based English language instruction for temporary residents evolved into Stage 1 English when 3 more agencies came on board in April 2010.

A Stage 2 pilot project began in the summer of 2014. Two Stage 2 classes for CLB levels 5&6 were added – one evening and one weekend class. Stage 2 classes are the most popular class to this day.

The following year, a new English for Employment (E4E) pilot was offered. This class provided the necessary tools and resources to assist newcomers in finding new employment or to advance in the workplace.