TELUS Friendly Future Foundation

Education

Providing newcomers with virtual conversation classes

Nov 5, 2021

The Immigrant Education Society (TIES) provides newcomers to Canada with a variety of services that help them adjust to life in a new country. From settlement services to language training, TIES is helping to ensure that they have access to resources within the Calgary community and are connected with others who can support them throughout the transition. 

As its services moved online at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, TIES created a program called English Conversation: Connect Online (ECCO) that supports isolated newcomers by offering a comfortable space to connect with others in the community and gain confidence with a new language.

“ECCO has been one of the most impactful and immediately rewarding programs we’ve ever delivered,” explains Whitney Loewen, Manager, e-Learning & Special Projects “There are no prerequisites for entry, only that participants want to practice their English. In essence, it’s the simplest program to offer with the greatest rewards for its participants. I would love to see organizations right across Canada offering the exact same thing,” 

A $15,000 TELUS Friendly Future Foundation grant allowed the ECCO program to continue offering online learning classes, as well as monthly education seminars, during COVID-19. These seminars highlight local organizations, services and resources that can benefit newcomers as they settle in Canada.

The pandemic has interrupted so many aspects of our lives and certainly changed the settlement process for many newcomers. It has also motivated the exploration of innovative and creative ways of continuously serving our Community to the best. To this end, we embrace, with immense gratitude, a future where in-person delivery and online service can coexist, serving greater needs than ever before.

Dr. Sally Zhao, TIES CEO