Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lovely LINC 6

So, I've been promising a post about my students for quite some time. Some of you have asked where this post is. And finally, here it is! Kathy finally got around to lugging Jeff's massive camera to Mohawk (after informing Jeff that no, I did not want to bring the fancy flash, and yes, please just put it on automatic; I'm not into the fancy-are-you-done-taking-pictures-yet poses, just basic snapshots, thank you very much!)

For your information, LINC stands for "Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada." In all my years teaching ESL, this is the first time I have had the privilege of teaching LINC. And yes, it has been an immense privilege. I find that many ESL instructors, and sadly, I have to include myself in this grouping, have, at one time or another, turned up their noses at LINC programs. They think LINC is "touch feely" and not nearly as rigorous as academic preparation programs designed for international students.

My experience has been different. For a number of reasons, really. Mohawk College simply has an excellent LINC program with a strong history and a very caring and compassionate coordinator who believes in the program with all her heart. I could go on about this for awhile, but I'll save it...

Also, I've been teaching LINC 6, which differs from the other levels of LINC in the program. It's a semester-long course, unlike the other levels, which are continuous intake and allow students to move up levels at the beginning of each month (if they're ready, of course.) Additionally, it's an equivalent course to College Entrance English 3, the highest-level "academic English" course offered in the ESL program to international, fee-paying students. As such, it's considered preparation for regular college courses, and it's very similar to any other high-level course I've previously taught.

So why the excitement? I've taught for many years, and I've rarely, if ever, wanted to blog about my students... well, at least in a positive way... ;)

This is the difference: they are immigrants. They need English to succeed in their new country. And they love and are proud of their new country. They are adults, with real-life experiences. They have a depth and kindness and maturity I have not previously experienced in students. Unlike many of my former international students, they want to know about Canada. You should have seen them at Halloween! Last year, I had one student tell me, "I don't care about Canadian traditions; I just want to study grammar. That's what's important." This attitude angered me to no end. This year, I wasn't planning to take my students to the Pumpkin Carving Contest, because, after last year's experience, I figured that we "had more important things to do." Well, I couldn't keep them away! I had grown men, rushing to the scene, digital cameras in hand, giddy with excitement. I had students dressing up in costume (and totally disrupting class!) All my plans for a serious and productive day of study vanished. And I was thrilled.

Besides their eagerness for all things Canadian, I am deeply impressed by their personal stories. Around midterm, I decided to conference with each of them, one-on-one, to get to know them better, and give them a chance to express any concerns they might have about the course or otherwise. I wasn't fully prepared for the experience. I cried or at least got very teary-eyed with a good quarter of them. These are people who know sacrifice and pain. They have experienced the full range of life... from divorce, war, death, to leaving family, security, and everything familiar and comfortable, for the chance at a better life. Their stories are too personal to share. But look closely at their faces. This is the new Canada. I'm deeply touched and excited. These individuals have truly enriched my life.

Ricardo, from Colombia.

Abul, from Bangladesh; Yang, from China, and Altug, from Turkey.

My three Romanian women: Elisabeta, Felicia, and Monica.

Andy, from Cuba.

Shayan, from Iran; Daniel, from Colombia, and Akhmet, from Kazakhstan.

Akhmet again, and Andrea, from Hungary.

Monica again, and Marija, from Macedonia.

Arta, from Kosova; Deroni, from Sri Lanka; Lena, from Iraq.

Lena again, and Elena, from Russia, and Sima, from Iran.

Holly, from China.

Echo, from China; Najva, from Iran, and you've already met the rest.

And to my students: I looked up the spelling of two words in the dictionary while writing this blog. See? Even native speakers have to do that sometimes! And yes, I began many sentences with coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS), and I even included some sentence fragments. But remember, a blog is not academic writing; it's more personal and informal. So I'm allowed to break the rules, but you're NOT! ;)

To the rest of my readers: Sorry for the "teacher talk!" Although I'm sure Joanne appreciated the dictionary reference! ;)


Suzanne said...

Kathy, how fantastic. You have a beautiful heart for teaching and I'm so glad that this class was able to remind and refresh that passion. They sound amazing. I really appreciated what you said about them being the "new Canada". I'm excited that they are making up what Canada is. How beautiful.

Karen said...

It was wonderful to be able to "meet" your class. Keep up your good work; I know they appreciate it.

lovetolaugh said...

I love these photo's. And love when you blog. I also love the shirt you're wearing!!


Rosilee S said...

This is a whole new you Kath. Sweet.
On Thursday we're going to see a play about refugees in Canada - go to to find out about it. It's a touring show so it might come to somewhere closer...I think it's going to be really cool.

Yang said...

Thanks, I've downloaded those pictures.

S. said...

Thanks, Kathy. I love your articles and these photos:-) Hehe, love your teaching style and use of humor too.Thank you for the kind teacher talk to remind us about the grammar in your blog. see,it's your way.

Love you,

mariaborito said...

this is the perfect post following the previous one. it's beautiful. full of love. full of learning. full of experience and people. isn't that what makes life really worth living?
(yes i tend to get sappy on this topic!) thanks for sharing darlin.

Barb (Mikiko's mom) said...

Hi Kathy;
You have a gift that should not go unnoticed. To teach is to touch the heart of others. Congrats on loving your job and doing it well!!

Barb (Mikiko's mom)

lovetolaugh said...

blog...b/c you might not blog for a while after that bebe, shows up! Look at me talking like She's just going to ring the doorbell one day!! lol. Actually YOu might blog more /bc you will want to keep us posted.

Milon said...

Hi Kathy,

I wonder if you remember me from the start of your teaching career back in late 90s Japan? I came across your blog and wanted to congratulate you on your pregnancy! I'm so happy for you and Jeff - you'll be wonderful parents.

My email is Would love to catch up.

Best wishes and very happy holidays to you both!

Milon x