Most of the members of the communities we serve did not speak English in their original countries. Even where English was/is taught, graduates often do not properly speak the language even after completing university. Many newcomer adults did not attend school at all and are unable to read and write in their own language. Some of them are uneducated farmers who are new to urban life. Most of our community members came to Canada from refugee camps after persistent mental and emotional exhaustion. They often need counselling and advice from professionals who are primarily English speakers.
The Horn of Africa, where many populations we serve come from, was/is a war-ravaged region. Many of our community members have experienced much violence, destruction, and calamities. Many of our clients suffer from post-traumatic syndrome, resulting in the need for mental health and psychosocial wellbeing care and support. Adult literacy programs and language classes help alleviate any additional traumas they may experience in the process of settlement into a new country.

English, as one of the official languages of Canada, and the main means of communication to get services, including work, is critically important for the people we serve. It is a main vehicle to effectively integrate and resettle in Canada. So, offering English language instruction is one of our priorities. We currently teach basic language skills for initial survival upon arrival to Canada, and hope to expand this service to be able to offer intermediate and advanced courses.
We are well aware of the fact that we are lucky in Alberta/Canada to have many English language courses available at ELLS or LINC Centres. However, the newcomers we serve have so many different challenges. They also need help to understand the importance of English language instruction in their daily lives, as well as for a smooth integration into Canadian society. They need help with transportation and childcare services. They also need convenient (mostly after hours) class times as they work at entry level jobs where they don’t have freedom in planning their time.

Those who arrive with dependents often do not receive enough government funding in order to provide for their family so employment becomes the primary need for survival, even before learning English. However, it is well known, based on personal experiences and studies, that proficiency in the English language is the #1 factor in being able to obtain meaningful employment, highly skilled jobs, and/or employment in one’s intended field. Inadequate language skill has been found to be the #1 top barrier to finding suitable employment. Improvement in literacy skills helps to reduce the wage gap between Canadian born and newcomers to Canada. Therefore, it is critical to be able to spend at least 2 years full time in order to properly learn and master the English language, thus become an effective contributing member of society, ultimately benefiting the entire family.
Computer, and other electronic devices, have become essential tools of our daily lives. Having basic computer literacy makes a difference for someone to be able to easily communicate, send and receive messages, learn online. Being able to access and manage digital information contributes to thriving in learning, the workplace, and daily life. This makes computer literacy a very important element in the resettlement of newcomer and refugee families as well.

At FOCAS we are working hard to establish a convenient, cultural and socially sensitive centre where newcomers get all these services at one place, while they protect their own culture and heritage. We align language and computer instruction with traditional and conventional healing. We have lived similar experiences that these people have lived and understand the unique challenges they encounter so we can connect their background experiences with current necessities and make things easily attainable for them. It is easy for us to know “who is who” and what challenges they possibly have and the remedies for those problems. We also have some role models in the community who can share incredible success stories in this area. We work with influential community leaders and grassroots organizations to encourage newcomers to Canada to engage in language and computer learning programs.
Developing good English language ability and computer skills makes it easier for adult newcomers to settle in Canada, find jobs, prepare for further education, have greater career options, access services, meet new people, obtain Canadian citizenship, have increased civic participation, and more. FOCAS is committed to helping this happen for our clientele and members.

To learn more contact FOCAS

Tel:+1 780-250-7007

Email: info@foceas.org