Canada is known for its diversity and acceptance towards different cultures. London Ontario is no expectation for representing Canada’s melting pot of backgrounds. Many students come from all over the world to study at Fanshawe college to receive the best education possible.
Though, school schedules aren’t the only thing english as a second language students must adjust to. College is difficult enough on its own with the heavy work load. Students whose first language is not english can also have difficulty adjusting to language barriers, cultural customs, and social cues.
Gerry Drabick is Fanshawe’s ESL technologist in the Learning Centre. He works solely to help international and ESL students adapt to Canadian culture and make their college experience as smooth as possible. He organizes conversation circles every Tuesday from 2 to 3 pm and Thursdays from 9 to 10 am in room F2002. In these conversation circles, domestic Canadian students lead conversation topics and ask the ESL students a list of questions to facilitate conversation. The ESL technologist explains that practising language in a natural conversation setting is so beneficial to these students.
When asked what his favourite part about hosting these conversation circles is, Drabick says it’s the ESL students positive energy:
“I think it’s just how much energy they bring to their studies. It’s the people I meet that are very motivated [and] want to improve their language skills so they can go on and study in a post secondary environment. They know that this will help them in their future. It’s just good to be around that kind of positive energy– it inspires and motivates me everyday.
Yung Soon Par is an ESL student from China. Par says the hardest part about adjusting to Canadian culture is understanding people when they talk quickly. She also mentioned how it’s common for Chinese people to ask “Do you want a piece?” or “Have you eaten?” to introduce themselves. Many ESL students would love to introduce themselves or meet new people but sometimes take a bit longer to understand. To help ESL students feel more comfortable, Drabick asks that Fanshawe students show patience to these students who are settling into a new culture.