One of the most challenging aspects of moving to a new country is overcoming the language barriers. A country’s language can be the gateway into its culture and its people’s way of life; when newcomers struggle to grasp the language, they have an even harder time connecting with others. With such a vital piece of Canadian culture on the line, the Richmond School District designed a program to address such barriers.
The Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program is a multi-faceted, educational initiative that has successfully been running for close to three decades. Federally funded, the program is also tuition free for permanent residents. Though its main function is to teach English as a common language, it achieves much more than its name would suggest. Most newcomers who complete the program described it as a place where they could connect with Canadians. “Most of all,” Michael Khoo, the Director of Instruction - Continuing Education of the Richmond School District, added, “they gain a sense of belonging and have a chance to build community with others who are also new to Canada.”
Students in the program can expect to learn about the culture and history of Canada, with an emphasis on Indigenous culture and history. The days are filled with innovative lessons, field trips, and guest speakers who touch on various themes such as healthcare, education, history-geography, and lifeskills.
Khoo added that the program is also very important for social and emotional health. “You know, moving to a new place is exciting but it is not without its challenges and I think sometimes your heart yearns for the familiar, where you came from,” Khoo said. “So I think LINC helps link people to each other and facilitates those connections.”