Inside Sault Ste. Marie's global villageFriday, October 05, 2012 by: Darren Taylor
It is truly a global village at Algoma University!
Algoma University’s English As A Second Language Program (ESL) plays an absolutely crucial role in helping the postsecondary institution’s ever-growing, vibrant international student population succeed, not only in their academic studies, but also in day-to-day life in Canada.
SooToday.com had the pleasure of speaking with two students from Kyoto, Japan, who are currently studying at Algoma.
Both are staying with host families in the Home Stay Program.
We asked Kana Ozaki and Sakiho Murasawa how they were enjoying their exposure to the English language in Canada.
Kana told us “I’m staying with my house parents, and they are very kind to me, just like my family in Japan. My host mother cooks very well. I try to eat just the right amount, but my host family says ‘come on, eat some more!”
“I just started the ESL program at Algoma in August, and I enjoy it!”
“We (Sakiho and I) studied English for about seven years in Japan, but we were taught English in a different way, a more formal way.”
At Algoma, English language instruction includes more conversational, everyday English.
Since August, Kana says “I have already noticed an improvement in spoken English. At first, I was a little nervous, but now I want to speak to Soo Today!”
Both Kana and Sakiho are short-term exchange students.
What are their plans when they leave Algoma and return to Japan?
Kana said “I want to use English in my career. I would like to be a flight attendant, or tour guide.”
Sakiho told us “I want to work at an airport, and I want to study abroad some more. I want to see more of Canada, I want to see the world. I’m really interested in knowing new things, communicate with people from different cultures, different backgrounds.”
What is the biggest difference these young ladies see between Canada and Japan?
Sakiho says “in Sault Ste. Marie, people are close to each other, and kind! In Japan, people are more reserved.”
Kana says its more open in Canada, stating “in Japan, people don’t express their feelings as much.”
Both women expressed how much they have been enjoying the bright fall colours here in Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding area.
Sakiho said “last weekend our host parents took us to the north shore of Lake Superior, they have a cottage, I took photos of the colourful trees and the wide open spaces.”
“We like the atmosphere…there are so many people in a small space like Japan, but here it is very peaceful, not so busy, its relaxing.”
Algoma University’s English for Academic Purposes Officer Hanna Lin told Soo Today “the ESL program helps the University because of the dramatic increase we have in foreign students.”
“20 percent of our student body are foreign students.”
The international student presence, Lin says, “helps students learn different perspectives, different cultures, how to get along with people from other countries, how to respect each other.”
“We learn we are all equal, which is very important for our university students to learn.”
Lin says English instruction at Algoma is more than just classroom instruction, its practical instruction as well.
“It is true that for students coming into our university, they need to pass a certain level of English to understand lectures and their assignments, but we try to prepare them in terms of culture as well.”
She continued “when anyone arrives in a new country, they will experience culture shock, and they won’t know what to do in certain situations.”
“For example, we hold special sessions on UHIP for students like Sakiho and Kana.”
Lin said “going to see a doctor in Japan, China, or Taiwan, its so different than going to see a doctor here, they need help on how to make a medical appointment, and to know about health insurance coverage for students.”
Lin continued “We have a course in our ESL program called ‘Cultural Link.’
“We try to teach as many cultural aspects as possible. Thanksgiving is here, so what we do is teach what people eat in Canada at Thanksgiving, what do they say at the dinner table. It is not something they can learn from a book or from the local newspaper.”
“This week we even prepared pumpkin pies for our ESL students!”
Lin added that at Algoma University, “we learn about a lot of different daily situations, how to do personal banking, make small talk when you meet people for the first time.”
“For me, it is very important not only to teach English theoretically but also how to apply it in a real context, in daily conversation, that’s my goal.”
After we spoke to Sakiho and Kana, we are confident they are well on their way to being confident speakers of the English language, thanks to their own eagerness to learn a new language and enjoy new experiences, and thanks to the ESL program at Algoma University.