Not only for improving English: how the ELLA program helped this Post-Degree Diploma student’s journey every step of the way
By Maggie Tung, Communications Coordinator
When Amie Sarabosing, a Post-Degree Diploma in Marketing Management student, was looking to study at Douglas College, she didn’t think she needed to take classes to improve her English. It’s her second language, and she thought her language skills were up to par. She got a wake-up call when she couldn’t meet the English proficiency requirement to start her post-degree.
Amie realized that while her English was serviceable for day-to-day activities, her academic writing and speaking needed improvement. So, she enrolled in the English Language Learning and Acquisition program (ELLA) — and she’s never regretted her decision.
ELLA focuses on improving students’ English ability in a college environment. Its courses teach them how to write effectively, understand academic texts, and conduct university-level conversations – all things that Amie is very grateful for.
“Doing ELLA before taking my academic courses was the best decision,” Amie says. “It made my transition to studying my post-degree a lot smoother. Instructors don’t spoon-feed you, so you have to do your part and take initiative.”
Before her time in ELLA, Amie wasn’t confident in her ability to express herself in English, especially in public speaking or conversation. Now, not only has ELLA strengthened her English skills, but it has also made her more self-assured.
“I was able to comfortably talk to my professors and ask questions,” she elaborates. “It actually felt like I was ahead of my classmates in my post-degree diploma program because I was exposed to the library and resources from the ELLA program. I knew how to do citations perfectly too. Since ELLA class sizes are so small, I improved so quickly in just one semester. It made studying at Douglas so much easier.”
Learning more than English in class
ELLA made learning English fun for Amie because it covered topics relevant to her everyday life.
“I think what’s unique about the ELLA program is we got to discuss Canadian culture and global issues. In an academic class, the focus is only on specific topics relating to the program, not necessarily real life. They don’t talk about culture and ways to adapt to it. In ELLA classes, Canadian and international studies and issues were incorporated into the teaching in ELLA classes. It made the class very interesting.”
Instead of being forced to write and speak about topics she felt detached from, Amie felt free to explore the subjects she had a genuine connection to.
“For example, in our speaking class, we practiced public speaking a lot. The class expounded on many different topics. We weren’t just learning English but also about current events and international and domestic cultures.”
Making lifelong friends
Taking ELLA in her first semester at Douglas allowed Amie to meet like-minded people.
“In the class, with both domestic and international students all learning English, we bonded quickly over how difficult it is to learn the language.” She continues, “My classmates were from China, Korea, Hungary, South America and the Middle East. We learned a lot from each other. ”
More than that, Amie is confident that many of the fellow students she met through ELLA will be lifelong friends.
“I am still close with people I met on the first day of class,” Amie exclaims. “I wrote a note here, ‘Friends for life’; that was one of the best parts about this program.”
Using ELLA to go beyond her studies and to employment
Amie is finishing her post-degree diploma this August. While excited, she isn’t nervous about her next step because she already has a job in Douglas College’s Student Support Department, working as a Student Support Navigator Assistant. She applied for the position as a student, and plans to continue working there after graduation. Her employment there is something she credits to the help of her ELLA instructors.
“I didn’t have anyone I could use as references to find a job when I started at Douglas. I was able to get my job with the help of my ELLA teachers. Because I was a hardworking student, they gave me a nice reference. I think it was a huge factor in my getting hired.”
Sharing her positive ELLA experience
Amie wants other students to know the importance of learning a language and culture thoroughly before beginning their academic studies.
“I highly recommend that students who are new to Canada take ELLA first before transitioning to academic studies. Even if they think they have a good command of the English language, Canada has certain standards. I say this because I lived it.” Amie says. “The ELLA program helped me not only academically, but with my employment, and I met great friends along the way. It is one of the best and most unforgettable experiences of my life!”
Interested in the ELLA program? Visit the Douglas College website and complete the eligibility form.