Capilano University instructor, Carrie Jung shares the importance of community engagement in the development and integration of international and domestic students studying in the English for Academic Purposes department at Capilano University.

“Giving causes me happiness. I appreciate that giving is the best gift ever for volunteer work.” For this young student from Taiwan, her experiences doing volunteer work during her English studies in Vancouver have not only helped her improve her English speaking skills, but also her feeling of connectedness with the community at large.

International and domestic students in our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) department at Capilano University are required to participate in community engagement. They receive course credit for this participation, and by doing so, they encounter many different, wonderful, strange, exciting and heart-warming experiences.

The goal of community engagement is to encourage students to participate in activities and events outside of the classroom. We realize that when students who are learning English have opportunities to interact with native English speakers, not only do they develop their language skills but also they discover that they can make new friends, learn about Canada, contribute to Canadian society, and ultimately, experience personal growth.

One student from China had been struggling in her English classes because of her weak speaking and listening skills. Outside of class, she stayed with other Chinese-speaking friends, and as a result, was not able to improve her English. She was also very shy, so in the classroom she was reluctant to speak with classmates from other countries. She failed one semester and was placed in my class to repeat the same level.

For her community engagement work, I encouraged her to participate in activities on campus. After she began to volunteer at our university’s intercollegiate basketball games, she discovered to her delight that being pushed out of her comfort zone actually helped her develop self-confidence: “I was really nervous to talk with native speakers. However, after I took the opportunity of CE (community engagement) and talked with native speakers, I found out that they are friendly and some of them are shy. Now, I have more confidence while I’m speaking English.”

Read the full story in Canadian Student Magazine.

Submitted by Carrie Jung, English for Academic Purposes
Published with permission from Canadian Student Magazine