Expanded English conversation program empowers international students

Each session lasts one hour and students engage in English conversations on specific topics.
Photo: Zixuan Li
Ana Chavez presents a YouTube video discussing how language can influence and shape the way individuals perceive and think.

The Student Learning Center has expanded its English conversation program to support the large number of students eager to enhance their English language skills.

“There’s a high volume of students coming from other countries that struggle a lot with the language,” said Ana Chavez, a part-time ESL coach in the Student Learning Centre. “I believe that’s why the Student Learning Center decided to grow this area, because they found out that there are many students, especially international students, in need of improving their language skills.”

“We have more opening, more time slots; many students have the opportunity to practice their language, especially the speaking skills,” said Chavez.

International students at Algonquin College are welcome to join English conversations several times a week to practice their language skills on campus or online at no charge.

“The more, the merrier,” said Chavez.

The program is held on Mondays at 2 p.m. and Fridays at 10 a.m. in room C262, while the online English conversation is conducted four times a week, on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursdays at 1 p.m. and Fridays at 7 p.m.

Each session lasts one hour and within this timeframe, students engage in English conversations on specific topics.

The coach provides additional explanations of grammatical concepts based on the students’ English responses. Additionally, midway through the session, enjoyable games are incorporated to enhance the overall learning experience.

Registration opens 24-hours in advance. The sessions usually limit the number of participants to five people. However, sometimes the coach allows people on the waitlist to join.

“I have encountered a day when there were nine people,” said Jason Zhu, a Level 1 student in the business management and entrepreneurship program. “That day, I was on the waitlist, and the teacher let me in.”

English conversation is under the ESL coaching program, offering personalized assistance in various aspects of English language learning. The program also offers one-on-one appointments, where individuals can receive support with oral presentation, communication, reading comprehension and basic writing skills.

Students are able to participate in as many English conversation sessions as they wish. However, one-on-one conversations are limited to two appointments a week.

Currently, there are three coaches providing these services, ensuring a focused and tailored approach to language development for students. Chavez is the only coach hosting the on-campus English conversation.

Zhu said that English conversation plays a significant role in enhancing his English proficiency.

“I basically enroll in all the classes I could fit into my schedule and consistently attend two one-on-one sessions every week,” said Zhu. “Sometimes, I would take three classes in a single day, comprising one one-on-one session and two conversation groups.”

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