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From MuskokaUnlimited.com: ESL in Muskoka
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From MuskokaUnlimited.com: ESL in Muskoka

Posted: 2023-12-27 13:16:45 By: thebay

Imagine moving to a new country for work and having little, if any, knowledge on how to speak or understand the local language.

How would you go shopping? Arrange for doctor appointments? Get a driver’s license? Fill out official documents? Get medicine? Or any other daily living needs.

Perhaps moving to a big city, especially one as multicultural as Toronto or New York, wouldn’t be so bad as you would likely find someone to help you in your own language.

Now, what about moving to a small town anywhere in North America? How about Huntsville or Gravenhurst or Bracebridge?

While it’s not new to see immigrants choosing to be in Muskoka, there are more workers than ever before being recruited by local companies who have positions to fill.

Helping them become a part of the community, learn English, and navigate daily life is where the ESL (English as a Second Language) program presented by the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka comes in.

Program coordinator Nancy West, who is also the Team Leader for Literacy and Special Projects, Community Experience Ambassador, says the need for this program has seen ebbs and flows over the years.

“It started with the Syrian refugee crisis,” she recalls. “When that happened, we saw a need for ESL programming. There were a lot of Syrians coming here and there were not supports whatsoever for newcomers in our community.”

Back then there were ESL instructors running classes out of Huntsville only. The pandemic ground the program to a halt, but it started up again when the Ukrainian crisis began. They now have classes in Huntsville and Gravenhurst.

“I would say we’ve served about 75 people since that from 17 different countries,” says West of recent results.

Read the full story and find out more about the ESL program at: