English Language Learning program gave this student the confidence to pursue her dreams in Canada

By Maia Odegaard, Marketing and Communications

As a newcomer to Canada and permanent resident, Tina Tso was no stranger to the free English-language classes offered around the Lower Mainland. In fact, she has taken just about every one of them. But she never felt confident in her English skills – until she met ELLA.

Tina Tso
Tina exploring Granville Island

The English Language Learning and Acquisition program (or ELLA for short) is a tuition-free program offered at Douglas College for Canadian citizens, Permanent Residents and refugees, and to international students at international student fee rates. ELLA helps students improve their English language skills so they can meet the English-language requirements for a post-secondary program or job opportunity in Canada.

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At first, Tina, who moved to Canada from Chengdu, China in 2011, had no plans to pursue higher education.

“The only thing I wanted was to keep learning English, because that was the only way I felt connected to the world around me,” says Tina.

But once her writing, speaking and listening skills began to improve, she decided to apply to the Youth Justice Diploma program at Douglas. Now, not only is she on her way to completing her diploma, she feels ready to take her education further and complete a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care.

She says she couldn’t have done it without ELLA.

“I really appreciated how supportive the teachers were. Also, ELLA provided holistic and practical training in listening, speaking and writing skills, which helped me build a good foundation for further study. It gave me the confidence to continue my education and pursue a bachelor’s degree.”

Read more: How one Child and Youth Care alum is changing the face of education

With the English language skills and confidence she has gained, Tina – now a Canadian citizen – is now on her way to completing a bachelor’s degree and is one step closer to her dream job as a support worker for children with autism.

Not only is Tina happy with the skills and confidence she gained in ELLA, she frequently recommends the program to other newcomers.

“Usually, English is the biggest barrier to Chinese immigrants. I always encourage my Chinese friends to continue learning English, especially through the ELLA program. I want to see more newcomers like me achieve their academic goals in Canada, and ELLA can help them get on their way.”

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