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English as an Additional Language classes providing vital skills to Saskatoon newcomers

How Saskatoon schools are dealing with the challenge of teaching refugee students
WATCH ABOVE: High school is hard enough for most teens, but imagine having to do it in a new language with new cultural norms. Well that's the case for one group of immigrant and refugee students at a Saskatoon high school. Jacqueline Wilson reports.

High-school is hard enough for most teens, but imagine having to do it in a new language with new cultural norms. Well that’s the case for one group of immigrant and refugee students at Walter Murray Collegiate who’re taking English as an Additional Language class with Kirk Jones.

Using a translator, Grade 11 student Salah says English has been a life-line.

“It was hard for me when I first came here, but when I learned English and how to communicate with people it got a little easier.”

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Officials with Saskatoon Public Schools said in the last two months, approximately 200 students have registered to the Newcomers Student Centre in Saskatoon.

For many it’s the first time they’ve been in class with the opposite sex and for a few girls it’s the first time they’ve been allowed to play sports.

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“Here school is different, so different,” said Grade 10 student Alzein.

“Here in Canada, in the school, I have freedom. You can do everything.”

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A few students expressed how much more they liked the close relationship between teachers and students. Here teachers act as a friend and educator and that’s exactly what Grade 9 student Hanna loves. It has made her want to be a teacher when she grows up.

“They aren’t strict here” she says, “I love teachers, I want to be a teacher.”

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But for Jones, the opposite is true. The greatest thing for him has been learning from his students.

“I tell them sometimes they’re my role models, my heroes. I can’t image going to a new country and starting over again in a new language,” the English as an Additional Language teacher explained.

Proving learning can come from all sides of the classroom.