Changing the conversation from ESL to ELL
When a high school student in B.C. learns a new language, they get credit towards their graduation. Unless they’re a migrant student learning English.
Fresh Voices is campaigning to change the way the education system in British Columbia treats newcomer youth learning English. Ten percent of high school students in British Columbia are currently enrolled in English Language Learning (ELL) courses. All students are learning English, it’s just those in ELL that aren’t getting graduation credit.
For many of us, English is a third or fourth language. That’s why we asked to change the name of ESL (English as Second Language) classes to better represent our diverse perspectives and experiences.
In 2011, the B.C. Ministry of Education announced it would change the ESL label to ELL, or English Language Learning. We applauded their quick response and appreciated their recognition of this issue.
But getting credit for English Language Learning, and the systemic change needed to make this happen is proving harder.
Working towards English Language Learning credits is taking time and patience. But we are finding and connecting with an influential network of governments, organizations, and people along the way.
Spring 2013: Fresh Voices met with Education Minister, Peter Fassbender
In early 2013 we met with B.C. Education Minister to talk about Make It Count and the recommendation to implement a credit system for ELL courses. Although no concrete action has been taken by the ministry yet, the conversation is a step in the right direction, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Fall 2013: Vancouver’s city council endorses all 16 Fresh Voices recommendations
In October 2013, Vancouver City Council passed a motion to endorse not only the Make It Count campaign, but the entire Fresh Voices report including all 16 recommendations.
The motion was passed unanimously, showing the depth of council support for credits for English Language Learning.
26.5% of British Columbians’ “mother tongue” is a non-official language, followed by Ontario (25.7%), Alberta (19.4%), and Quebec (12.3%). British Columbia has the highest percentage of language diversity of any Canadian province.