July 30, 2019 4:46 pm

Durham ESL program helps new Canadians learn literacy, numeracy skills

WATCH: Some students who are new to the country are spending part of their break in class, trying to brush up on their language and math skills. Aaron Streck reports.


It’s been one month since school let out for the summer.

However, some students who are new to the country are spending part of their break in class, trying to brush up on their language and math skills.

Five months ago, Fareeza Alnwer and her family moved to Canada from Syria.

In September, the nine-year-old is going into grade three.

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“From when I was little, so young, my mom teach me English because she has a book of English. So from a long time I know English,” said Alnwer, an ESL summer learning program student.

Fareeza is spending part of her summer in the classroom preparing herself for the new school year.

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“I want to be in this camp because I want to try it, it’s my first year so I want to see how the camp is. I learn lots about math,” said Alnwer.

Fareeza is one of about 70 students taking part in the Durham District School Board’s ESL summer learning program. It’s directed towards newcomers, with the focus being on literacy and numeracy skills.

“We do a lot with them with alphabets and just with numbers and letter sounds and hopefully by the time they get back into the classroom in September, they feel more confident in the classroom because they’re a little withdrawn, they’re a little shy and some of them have never been to school before,” said Mariana Spena, ESL summer learning program teacher.

The DDSB says the number of newcomer students has increased drastically over the past few years. Within the last month, the board says, 20 more families have registered for the fall.

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“The schools that they come from, they might be the only English language learner in their school, so they get to come here and meet other children who are all in the same playing level, all of them are learning English,” said Spena.

This is the second year for the ESL summer program.

Hamiya Mousa is one of a few who are back.

“Because I wanted to learn. It’s a lot of fun and I like math,” said Mousa, ESL summer learning program student.

While the students come from a variety of backgrounds, the program enables them to come together and help one another achieve a common goal.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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