Do you know what language training is best for you? Here’s how to choose your program

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Manitoba has a wide variety of English language programs.

There are courses in schools and universities, job-related language training from resource centers, there’s even one-on-one tutoring from private agencies and settlement provider organizations. Some programs are long-term, others, seasonal. Language classes may also be formal or informal, and delivered in-person, online, or blended (in-person and online combined). What’s great is that many of these high-quality programs are free.

How do you know which one is right for you?

Why do you need English language training in the first place?

Did you know that English language proficiency is linked to economic success among immigrants? According to a 2016 Statistics Canada study, immigrants who spoke English at home tend to earn more than those who don’t.

Having good communication skills plays a key role in your success. Everyone needs to continually improve their communication skills in order to be successful in the workplace. But aside from career success, being proficient in English assures a successful settlement. You connect with others faster, absorb more information, and benefit from services better when you know the language.

Getting the appropriate language training is an important step in boosting your language skills.

5 steps to getting the right language training

Choosing the language training that suits you requires self-evaluation and a survey of what’s out there. We suggest that you:

  1. Know your proficiency level

    For training to be effective, it has to meet the learner’s level. If instruction is too easy (or below the level), students can get bored. If it’s too difficult or above their level, they can get frustrated and give up.

    This is why some language programs require a CLB certificate for enrollment. In fact, it is a must for formal language programs like LINC Home Study. However, not all programs will require it. For example, you do not need a CLB certificate to join informal classes like conversation circles. But whether you’re taking a formal or informal class, it is recommended that you know your skill levels. Why? First, it will help you set learning priorities. You’ll be able to see whether you need more training in speaking, writing, reading or listening. Second, it will make it easier for you to measure your progress. You’ll be able to compare your CLB scores after training to your scores before you started.

    Getting a CLB is free from language centres all over Manitoba. Go to WELARC if you’re in Winnipeg or Westman Immigrant Centre (Brandon) and Regional Connections (Winkler, Morden, Altona and surrounding areas) if you’re in rural Manitoba.

    If you’ve taken the IELTS recently, you can convert your scores to CLB by using the IELTS Calculator on the immigratemanitoba site (do this if you don’t need an official CLB certificate).

  2. Consider your learning style

    Do you learn better in a classroom setting or do you prefer to study independently? Are you the type of person who needs supervision and guidance or are you self-motivated? These preferences can determine whether you’ll thrive in an in-person program where you usually learn with a group, or online where you have to study on your own.

    Looking back on your days as a student can help you determine your learning style. Most of us received instruction in the classroom but not everyone had the same experience. Some thrived with the consistent guidance of the teacher, while others liked learning independently. Maybe a combination of guided and independent learning worked best for you? Then you can look for training that offers blended learning.

  3. Know your needs and priorities

    If you’re applying to jobs and need your speaking skills to shine, then look for training that focuses on speaking skills. This could include conversation circles, a one-on-one tutor, or a Toastmaster’s Club. If you intend to go back to school and would like to improve your writing skills, then enroll in an academic writing class.

    Plotting your learning priorities and goals will help you assess the kind of training you need. You’ll also be able to set targets keeping in mind your available time.

  4. Know what’s available

    Language programs in Manitoba fall under three general categories:

    • Formal language training – Courses that have a patterned curriculum and assessment requirements.
    • Informal language training – These are delivered in informal settings and do not use structured lessons. There is also no formal feedback or assessment. These are helpful for language practice and increasing your network.
    • Employment-related language training – Focused on gaining language skills for employment. These can be structured for specific types of professions.

    As mentioned, programs can be delivered in-person, online, or blended. Due to the pandemic, you may see more online programs right now. However, in-person classes are now slowly being offered as restrictions have ended.

  5. Try them out

    Taxpayer-funded programs are free and are often flexible, meaning there is no obligation to stay for a fixed period. Try out several programs and see what works for you. You can also consult language instructors for recommendations. Language programs, like the ones offered by English Online, are facilitated by TESL-accredited educators. They would be able to provide good advice based on your level and language goals.

For more information about language programs for newcomers, read Types of language programs for newcomers to Canada.

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Community Resources

Check out English Online’s offerings here: LEARN.

Here’s a list of various English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in Manitoba from WELARC.

Here’s a list of Informal Language Training programs in Winnipeg from MANSO.

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