Academy offers English language programs in Nanaimo

NANAIMO – International citizens will have a chance to improve their English skills at the Vancouver Island Academy.

International citizens and students will have a chance to improve their English skills at the Vancouver Island Academy in Nanaimo.

The English as a second language school, currently located at the Waterfront Suites and Marina on Stewart Avenue, also offers students the convenience of accommodations. Rooms are are about 33 square metres and have a kitchen, bathroom and balcony.

Plans have been in the works for over a year, according to executive director Ashwak Sirri, and is open to any foreigner provided they are here legally.

“It offers English language for beginners and we also have other English programs for adults, companions, i.e. wives, husbands, moms, dads, who are here with their family that are students attending [Vancouver Island University],” Sirri said.

Keith Watson, programs director, said there are three main programs. The Pathway program is beginner English done in collaboration with Vancouver Island University to prepare students for the university’s English Language Centre.

“In other words we do cultural orientation, welcome them, give them confidence, help them with their life skills within the community and get their English to entry level so that they can be successful at the university,” said Watson.

The Companion program deals with general English and is geared toward adults. In particular, Watson pointed to parents with children in the Nanaimo school district.

“They’ve come here, they’re kind of left on their own … so they have nowhere to learn English, to socialize, to orient to the culture, to get support with their kids in school, so we offer the companion program for those parents,” he said.

The Bridging program is a preparatory program done through agreement with the Nanaimo school district and takes international students with few English skills. They are given cultural orientation, life skills and basic English so they can enter the school district.

Graham Pike, Vancouver Island University’s dean of international education, said the academy is complementary.

“The benefits for us are that we often get students coming here with low-level English language skills and we don’t have classes for people at that level, we don’t have beginner classes,” explained Pike, adding the hope is they will return to the university after attending the academy.

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