By George Hong

Mastering a second language is hard and English is considered one of the most difficult. The English as a Second Language (ESL) program at NAIT doesn’t count for credit toward a diploma or degree, but the students can benefit for a lifetime.

The ESL program at NAIT has been steadily-growing; adding more students, hiring more teachers, and offering more classes. According to Stacey Buffie, ESL Program Assistant, around 1000 students enrolled in the program in 2018. The program needed 22 to 23 instructors to teach the classes.

Stacey Buffie – ESL Program Assistant

ESL students do not pay the additional fees and dues that students in credit-programs pay. Therefore, ESL students do not get access to NAIT Student Association benefits like U-Pass, Health & Medical Insurance, or the NAIT gym.

“Full time ESL students can bring their schedule to the Book Store, shop AT NAIT, and get a discounted monthly bus pass,” said Buffie.

Students are initially assessed to determine their level in three areas: listening & speaking, reading & vocabulary, and grammar & writing. Based on their results, the student will start somewhere between level one and six. Each level takes one full semester (4 hours per day for 15 weeks). Once graduated, students can enroll in a Degree Diploma Certificate Program (DDCP) of their choice.

International students pay almost double the rate of a domestic student which is in-line with all other NAIT program rates.

All ESL classes are held in the old ‘L-building’, which has been renamed Continuing Education and International Trade Centre (CEITC).

Minh Vo ESL Program – Level 6

This is Minh Vo’s third and final semester with the ESL program. Vo is an international student from Vietnam. He decided to come to Edmonton because he has friends and family who live in the city.

“Most international students from Vietnam go to Australia, Singapore, or the US,” said Vo.

Vo loves animals and was planning to take the Animal Health Technology Diploma but instead will be applying to the Chemical Technologies program. He will be returning to Vietnam in January and hopes to return in the fall. The International Student Centre (HP W-101) can help students apply for a visa to study in Canada.

Vo has already taken postsecondary education in Vietnam and wanted a faster route to a technologies diploma. The ESL program at NAIT fit all of Vo’s needs and he looks forward to being a full-diploma student.

Deh Djahi ESL Program – Level 4-5

The beautiful Canadian landscape and pictures of fall maple leaves helped Deh Djahi decide to immigrate to Canada 2.5 years ago. Canada’s international reputation and two main languages also played a part because Djahi is from the Ivory Coast and speaks French fluently.

Djahi is taking a mixture of level 4 and 5 ESL courses and plans to enroll in the JR Shaw Business Program once she graduates because she loves math.

All of the classes in the ESL program are important but Djahi really likes learning new words to be able to talk to her new friends.

“I like Reading & Vocabulary class because I learn new words which helps me express myself,” said Djahi.

Another way Djahi learns new words, is through listening to English-speaking music. Even if Djahi doesn’t understand the lyrics right away she still enjoys the music and vibes.

Photo Source: NAIT