In their own words
Hearing newcomers’ stories
The best way to understand ESL students is to hear their stories directly from them. The links
below are to resources in which learners describe their own experiences.
They are all interesting and some are positively moving.
ESL Students’ Canadian Experiences
This page, part of the
website at the Ontario Institute for Studies in
Education, provides short texts written by ESL students’ about their experiences arriving in
and adjusting to Canada.
Teaching the ESL Learner: What Students Say
Although targeting university students, this site captures students’ concerns which apply
equally to high school learners. A two-minute video of an interview with one ESL learner
is an eye-opener in terms of evaluating ELLs.
This video is free and available for ordering (a preview is available at this link). It was
prepared by the
Settlement Workers in Schools
organization in Ontario and depicts high-
school students describing their immigration experience.
Growing New Roots: The Voices/Reflections of Immigrant Teenagers in Canada
These excellent, moving videos are available for ordering. They show immigrant high-
school students discussing the challenges they faced on arriving in Canada.
Teaching and Learning in Multicultural Ontario
One five-minute portion in the middle of this one-hour video shows a presentation by three
ESL students about a bilingual book they wrote. The presentation includes some
interesting comments about how they felt when they first arrived in Canada. The relevant
segment starts at 34:30, but the entire video is interesting.
Why I Came Here
This interesting series of video interviews by the Toronto Star tells the stories of adult
immigrants and why they came to Canada. It gives a good perspective of the types of
issues our students’ parents and families are facing.
© 2010 Eastern School District
Information and content by Martha Trahey