“Sometimes, professional immigrants struggle with the cultural and linguistic nuances of the English language,” says Kathy Bell, Director of Education at Integra College in Port Moody. “We offer higher level English as a second language (ESL) courses that develop a level of communication competence for people looking to take licensing exams in Canada.”
Often, internationally trained professionals are fluent in conversational English, but need help communicating in a clinical context with other healthcare providers or patients. The courses at Integra College are designed to improve elements of pronunciation as well as teaching participants how speech patterns can help manage emotionally charged situations.
“Many international professionals arriving in Canada have years of experience, a high level of education, and status in their community,” Kathy explains. “Once here, they find they need to be re-licensed before they can work in their chosen profession. They’ve lost everything—it’s devastating. So building confidence in language skills is very important.”
Language students at Integra College come from diverse range of countries, from China to Iran, Korea, and Eastern Europe. Typically, they have scored high on the immigration point system that encourages foreign professionals to come to Canada and fill a need in the healthcare sector, but then find that support for language training by government agencies is lacking.
“Our programs at Integra College are designed to help give them a chance. Courses are a mix of classroom and online work and vary in length. The shortest is two weeks and the longest is six weeks.”
Many internationally trained professionals find that their high standards and perfectionism – the very things that had made them successful in their country of origin – hold them back from speaking English fluently.
“They stay quiet for fear of making a mistake,” Kathy says, “or they wait until the sentence is perfect in their head, by which time the conversation has moved on. At Integra College, our courses give participants the chance to read and discuss a diverse range of articles to build vocabulary, fluency, spontaneity, and confidence.”
Communication courses include small group discussions – from two to four people – and are designed for advanced speakers of English. The focus is on accurate, idiomatic speech and writing in a clinical context.