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Online English course for immigrants gets boost

Over the past five years, the number of Ontario immigrants taking agovernment-funded English home study program has jumped to 1,100 from440 — including 150 in Toronto, where the program became available in2008.

Over the past five years, the number of Ontario immigrants taking a government-funded English home study program has jumped to 1,100 from 440 — including 150 in Toronto, where the program became available in 2008. Some 225 use it in remote areas in six other provinces.

The program is more accessible and flexible for learners and costs less than half as much as traditional English classes. It also has the potential to get immigrants started on language training before arrival.

This month, the e-learning program has been expanded through a pilot project for newcomer youth. Another portal designed for immigrant seniors will follow. Like the $2.5-million home-study program, the $300,000 pilot is administered by Mississauga-based Centre for Education and Training.

Participants in the LINCing Youth program (www.ylinc.ca) can log on and practise reading, writing, listening to and speaking English through interactive scenarios and tools such as YouTube — with progress monitored through the system.

Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) classes are offered to immigrants at no cost, but only 20 per cent of adult newcomers take the program annually — many drop out due to other obligations.