Push on for ESL classes in Norfolk

Refugees in Norfolk hoping to learn English currently need to travel to Brantford and back three times a week.The Norfolk Refugee Committee wants to change that.The NRC is a large group consisting of churches and community members across the county who sponsor families to come to Norfolk, and help to get them acclimated to life in Canada.NRC members are aiming to bring English as a Second Language classes to Simcoe to create easier access for the adult students. The ESL students currently attend classes three days a week in Brantford, which means the NRC needs six sets of volunteer drivers a week.This requires a substantial time commitment from the volunteers, and can pose issues during the harsh weather and winter months.The Grand Erie Learning Alternatives program is sanctioned by the Grand Erie District School Board and houses the ESL classes. Program officials have been in contact with representatives from Simcoe about the possibilities of classes coming to Norfolk.“People contact us when they see there are people in an area in need of this service. We give them the parameters of what is required like how many people we need, and what the language benchmarks they need to meet are before we can run a class,” said Greg Carruthers, principal at Grand Erie Learning Alternatives.Anyone can enroll in these ESL classes as long as they meet the language requirements. New students will be assessed before started classes to ensure they are placed in the right class. The evaluation includes reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.The NRC is hoping to start the Simcoe classes in September if enough people are interested. They need at least eight adults to commit to attending class three days a week for the program to be able to run. They currently have six attending the classes in Brantford.English classes are free for conventional refugees, refugee claimants, approved provincial nominees, permanent residents, and Canadian citizens.The committee is still looking for drivers to volunteer to help the families get to Brantford and back between now and the end of June.“The families are happy to have people do activities with them, if there’s things people would like to do they can contact us,” said Amanda Van Schyndel, a representative from the NRC.If you know anyone that would be interested in these classes, or if you would like to volunteer as a driver, you can contact Posie Ross (weldonross79@gmail.com) or Alma Scovil (peterandalma@gmail.com).astaylor@postmedia.com

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