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October 10, 2017

English as a Second Language Pathways

Vancouver Community College’s (VCC) English as a Second Language (ESL) Pathways Program is an innovative pathway to post-secondary institutions or the workforce for immigrants or prospective immigrants to British Columbia (BC). The program was developed at the behest of the provincial government which selected VCC to research, design and develop an ESL curriculum for post-secondary institutions in BC, in the first phase of a multi-phase initiative.

Working with educators from more than ten of BC’s colleges, universities, and community development agencies, VCC developed the program that consists of ten core courses and two experiential learning courses, informed, and designed to the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) and integrating Essential Skills.

The second phase of the project, saw the Program field tested to orient instructors and produce course materials and assessment tools. In 2015, VCC was licensed by the Government of BC as the first institution to deliver the ESL Pathways curriculum. The first cohort consisted of 100 students; as word spread around BC’s immigrant community about the alternative to traditional ESL curricula, interest grew with the January 2017 cohort reaching 600 students.

The ESL Pathways Program uses a wide range of real-life contexts for students and provides a common standard and practice of assessment for College ESL and English for Academic Purposes programs. Two types of certificates allow students to graduate with credentials at CLB levels 7 and 9. The experiential learning courses encourage students to choose achievable outcomes to build their confidence in communication.

Students described how the Program helped them overcome their fear of speaking to a daycare practitioner or gave them greater confidence in attending and participating in professional seminars.

The Government of BC owns the copyright to the ESL Pathways Program and provides the material electronically for interested institutions to review.