Report: Informal English Language Learning in Surrey
Thursday, May 11, 2017

English Language Learning (ELL), has been singled out as a one of the most important elements of immigrant and refugee settlement in Surrey. Yet, there are growing concerns over the ability of the current system to adequately meet community needs.

Informal approaches to ELL provide accessible language training to newcomers who might not otherwise access the more formal program of Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC).

The Informal English Language Learning report compiles information on informal ELL as a way to inform and enhance service planning and coordination of English language programming in Surrey.

Results of the research discovered that informal English language in Surrey is varied. About 15 agencies, mostly belonging to the immigrant settlement sector, provide the bulk of the programming. However, other community sectors play important roles, including the Surrey Public Library, the City of Surrey, post-secondary institutions, as well as many faith-based organizations, such as churches, temples, and mosques. But clear estimates of the number of such faith-based agencies are difficult to quantify. There are several hundred – if not thousands – of FBOs in Surrey each offering distinct services to their members.

The lack of a single repository detailing what services are offered where and by what FBO makes the task of identifying informal English language programming difficult. A conservative estimate indicates that 75 to 100 FBOs in Surrey offer some kind of English language service.

Apart from faith-based organizations, there are currently about 25 different English language programs available to Surrey residents such as Conversation Circles, Literacy Classes, and Workplace Language Training. Classes are available throughout Surrey with most of the programs being offered in Whalley/City Centre, Guildford and Newton. A few hundred students participate in these informal English language classes every month, but concrete numbers are difficult to pin down due to the informal, drop-in nature of these programs.

The Informal English Language Learning report was commissioned by the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) as part of its Immigrant Integration Strategic Plan. The report outlines a community-based research project created to facilitate the implementation of Strategic Direction 1: Accessible Services.

Read the full report.