Basic English skills made easy with free Okanagan College program

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WATCH: Studying at post-secondary institutions can be costly but at Okanagan College, there's one program that's absolutely free – one that helps people improve both their literacy and math skills. – Sep 17, 2021

English is hard to learn, even for native speakers. There’s unpredictable spelling, tricky grammar rules, confusing expressions and many other rules that can be perplexing for many.

For more than 35 years, Okanagan College has been helping adults gain basic literacy and math skills for free.

“Most often they are learners from the community. They are working full time and can’t fit classes into their schedule,” said Rene Dahms, an instructor at Okanagan College.

“They really look to the tutoring program as a flexible option.”

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Volunteer tutors are paired with people wanting to improve their English skills that are either Canadian-born, new to Canada or have learning differences.

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“We have Canadian-born and literacy learners who want to learn, work on their reading, writing and spelling and those numeracy skills, and then we also have learners that English is their second language,” said Dahms.

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Because of the pandemic, much of the learning has been moved online, meaning the free program is easier to access than ever for those wanting to improve their skills and tutors wanting to help.

“I got to meet Lisa [her learner]. We’ve worked together for over a year now, I think, so we’ve been able to work together for such a long time building a community connection,” said Paige Dafoe, volunteer tutor.

And the tutors are able to cater the program to their learner’s level and specific needs.

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“My learner, she was in an English course at the college, so a lot of our work focused on helping her with reading assignments, helping her understand some basics with communications and grammar and speech as well, but mostly we were talking about her assignments,” said Megan Udala, former volunteer tutor.

Anyone interested doesn’t need to be enrolled with the college. All you need to do is send an email to or make a phone call to 250-762-5445 ext. 4244.

Tutors are also needed.

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