Ontario Celebrates English as a Second Language

By Kristina Skorbach
Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 6, 2012 Last Updated: November 10, 2012
Related articles: Canada » Toronto
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Ontario honours English learners and teachers this week under the banner of English as a Second Language (ESL) Week. Some 44 communities across the province have officially declared ESL Week with celebratory events Nov. 4–10.

Toronto, Markham, and Richmond Hill are among the participating communities.

The annual event was founded by Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) Ontario, an organization that has been certifying ESL teachers and educators for decades.

Renate Tilson, executive director at TESL Ontario, says that a big challenge for immigrants in Canada is isolation because of the language barrier.

“Our role is to help new Canadians, whether they are immigrants, refugees, or international students, learn the basics of English so they can communicate, get jobs, develop good self-worth, and ultimately feel a part of our amazing country that offers so much opportunity,” Tilson said in a statement.

To mark the 40th anniversary of ESL Week this year, TESL Ontario held a creativity contest designed for both educators and learners.

The contest winners of the contest will receive certificates of achievement at the annual TESL Ontario conference Nov. 8–10. This year’s conference, “TESL Ontario at 40: Thriving, excelling, Sharing, Leading,” is a highlight of the ESL Week celebration.

Locals can participate in the conference where over 1,500 delegates, including academics, researchers, teacher trainers, and government representatives will engage the public with workshops, panel discussions, and research symposia.

Growing Trend of Foreign Languages in Toronto

According to the 2011 Statistics Canada census, nearly 1.8 million people in Toronto—about one-third (32.2 percent) of the total population—reported speaking an immigrant language most often in their homes.

About one-third (35.4 percent) of these people speak one of the following five languages at home: Cantonese, Punjabi, Mandarin or other Chinese languages, Urdu, and Tamil.

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