Vancouver Community College's ESL Pathways program recognized with national award

In a ceremony held in Ottawa on May 1, Vancouver Community College’s (VCC) innovative ESL Pathways program was recognized as the Gold recipient of the Program Excellence Award from Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan).

The ESL Pathways program is the result of a Government of British Columbia curriculum development project aimed at overcoming the known language and cultural barriers newcomers to Canada face in accessing sustainable employment and post-secondary education.

In contrast with traditional English as a Second Language (ESL) curricula focusing on English literature and grammar, ESL Pathways was created as a practical, culturally sensitive alternative targeting real-world scenarios such as job interviews, informal conversations, and public speaking. The new curriculum is also fully aligned with the Canadian Language Benchmarks, providing a common standard of assessment and eliminating the need for re-testing in many other educational and professional settings in Canada.

This new curriculum was researched, developed and tested over the course of five years by VCC’s English as an Additional Language department. To ensure provincial scope, VCC seconded faculty from seven other B.C. institutions, and convened a panel of experts specializing in assessment standards, intercultural communications, and applied linguistics.

VCC officially launched ESL Pathways in 2015 with 100 students and the program has grown remarkably since then. Currently in its third year, ESL Pathways now serves approximately 600 students at VCC and further growth is anticipated. Additionally, several other B.C. institutions have begun the licensing process for adopting the ESL Pathways curriculum.

The CICan Awards of Excellence provide national recognition for initiatives and programs by colleges, institutes and polytechnics that support Canada’s social, economic, and cultural development.

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