After nearly two years off, Vancouver Community College’s Mt. Pleasant ESL learning department has re-opened for classes in the neighbourhood’s brand new community centre.
The learning centre, housed for nearly three decades in the old Mt. Pleasant community facility in Kingsgate Mall, had been put on hold for space to open up in the new building. Now that the doors are open, staff in the new classroom are excited to offer what was traditionally a busy centre for VCC.
“Over 200 students went through Mt. Pleasant every year,” said Colleen van Winkel, assistant department head in the VCC school of language studies. “It was a very busy centre for us.”
Classes in the new building are part of VCC’s Outreach program, which was designed to help students over the age of 18 who may not be able to attend regular classes because of demanding work or family commitments.
“Some people just can’t give up work for school,” said van Winkel, who’s been with VCC since 1981. “This is an alternate way to learn English. We see students from 19 years old right through to their early 80s. Just come when you can.”
Registration to the program takes into consideration a number of skills, ranging from conversation and writing to comprehension and listening.
“Every person who walks in has their specific needs assessed,” said Lori Hilton, head tutor at the centre. “Some learners come with a number of skills but just need help with pronunciation so we can tailor their learning to meet those needs.”
While a number a students do come to VCC in the hopes of simply improving their overall English abilities, Hilton, a 20-year veteran with VCC, says the centre also sees some learners come with professional motivations.
“We do so much more than just help within the context of VCC,” she says. “We also do a lot with folks who want certain upgrades of their skills for work.”
VCC’s Mt. Pleasant ESL learning centre is located at 1 Kingsway, at the corner of Kingsway and Main Street. The centre will be open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information on classes and registration, call VCC’s outreach office at 604-871-7277.