From June to August 2010, Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers delivered an innovative program that invited newcomers to Canada to an opportunity to learn English in the context of Alberta’s natural parks. The program touched the learning journeys of more than 300 newcomers to Canada and involved 11 partners representing government, education, media, business, and academe. The project consisted of three phases: classroom preparation; a day excursion to a city park; a weekend camping excursion to a provincial park. The program was delivered three times to three distinct groups of newcomers to Canada. Two groups were newcomers enrolled in English language classes and the third group was a community of Karen refugees. The aspirations of the project were to: introduce new Canadians to parks and wildlife in Alberta; offer newcomer families an opportunity to enjoy a Parks experience; increase use of Alberta parks by immigrant populations; research the impact and value of language study based in a natural environment.
The Alberta Teachers of English as a Second Language (ATESL) is a professional organization that promotes the highest standards of teaching and English language program provision for all learners in Alberta whose first language is other than English.