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October 24, 2002 Aspiring poets get tips from award winners



by Barbara Castrovillo Seasholtz

Increasing numbers of international students and newly landed immigrants are filling Concordia University’s hallways. Many of these students have mother tongues other than English, which means a high demand for help with English-language skills.

Concordia offers many classes, workshops and discussion groups for students wishing to improve their English, from academic writing style to conversation. Moreover, many of the options are low-cost or free.

Counselling and Development is one the best resources for a second-language learner.

Students can attend informal conversation sessions in groups of 10 to 20 people or sign up for practice in a small group. These intimate sessions are limited to five students and one native English speaker in order to address individual difficulties. In addition, writing tutors are available on an individual basis to provide assistance with writing skills, writer’s block and making outlines, but they will not edit academic assignments.

At the beginning of each semester (check the Web site for upcoming repeat sessions), Counselling and Development offers two-hour workshops on topics like how to study in a foreign language or how to give an oral presentation.

These topics are also condensed into weekly lunchtime sessions called Lunch ‘n’ Learn, held every Wednesday from noon to 1; no sign-up is necessary for the shorter workshops.

Students can also visit Counselling and Development’s Web site for links to helpful sites on English as a second language (ESL), or they can visit the English learner’s library in H-662. All of Counselling and Development’s services are free of charge.

Counselling and Development can be reached at 848-3545 and is located on the fourth floor of the Hall Building. The Web address is http://cdev.concordia.ca/CnD/studentlearn/framesetsls.html

The Teaching of English as a Second Language (TESL) Centre is part of the Education Department at Concordia, and provides opportunities for student teachers to develop their skills.

The Centre gives low-cost conversation workshops every weekday from 11:30 to 1 for 10 weeks each term. The cost for attending once a week is $20; twice a week is $30. These midday classes complement the ESL courses offered by the university. More than 100 students have registered for the workshops this semester, according to Roberto Chen-Rangel, graduate program coordinator at the Centre.

The TESL Centre is at 2070 Mackay St. on the second floor. For more information, call 848-2450.

The English Department of the university is the place to go for advanced classes in English literature, creative writing and composition. These courses are useful for students who must write papers or a thesis during their academic careers.

For more information, please call the English Department, at 848-4382. You can visit their office at LB-501, or their Web site, at http://artsandscience.concordia.ca/English/comp.htm.

The Language Institute of Concordia’s Centre for Continuing Education offers intensive and regular courses in English writing, conversation and standardized tests.

Continuing Education is located at 1600 Ste. Catherine St. W., corner of Guy St. Information: 848-3600.

Several institutions outside the university offer English courses within walking distance of the downtown campus. Some of the most popular with Concordia students, according to Chen-Rangel, are the YMCA, Tyndale-St. George and Language Studies Canada (LSC Montreal).

Language exchange clubs are another inexpensive way to perfect oral language skills and meet people. These clubs match up people who want to practice a specific language.

For example, if a Spanish speaker wants to practice English, she will be paired with an English speaker who wants to improve his Spanish. Then they will practice together, usually communicating for an hour in each language. Language exchange clubs are advertised on flyers and posters in and around the university and in the weekly entertainment papers Hour or The Mirror.

If you still can’t speak English like the Queen, the university’s walls are adorned with postings for cheap private instruction or informal conversation exchanges. Any of these options will undoubtedly strengthen a student’s English. That means more confidence — inside and outside of the classroom.