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NAIT growing to accommodate immigrant students in Alberta

By Admin User on November 10, 2017

A recent report released by Stats Canada shows that over 200,000 immigrants have settled in Alberta between 2011-2016. The population increase has put pressure on post-secondary institutions to accommodate the diverse educational needs of all students.

For English as a Second Language (ESL )and newcomer students, NAIT has been active in growing its services and programs to facilitate those whose native language may not necessarily be English.

Erick Estrada is a second-year Business Administrative student who moved to Edmonton three years ago from Mexico. He describes NAIT’s resources for ESL students as plentiful but feels that the onus should be on students to seek them out.

“When you are about to buy a car, you don’t consciously look for the car but once you know which one you’re going to buy, out of nowhere you look everywhere and it’s there. Now you know the resource is there because you’re looking,” explains Erick Estrada.

Currently, NAIT has a bridging program in place with the School of Business. This program provides students with an opportunity to take English language training courses together with Business Administration Level 1 courses. It is meant to help students gain an appreciation for the wide range of careers possibilities as they relate to business studies. While this program is the first of its kind on campus, there is mention of expanding something similar to NAIT’s Digital Media and IT program.

To further its cause, NAIT provides Newcomer Needs Assessments that assist in understanding the barriers and pressure points of immigrant students.

What we’re finding is that there are a lot of intercultural barriers, whether it’s in the services we provide to students or in the classroom. – NAIT’s Manager of International Programs and Services, Patrick Sullivan.

Examples of intercultural barriers include:

  • Insensitive comments made about someone’s accent.
  • Immigrant students receiving less responsibility in group projects because a peer feels they are less capable.
  • Body language is misinterpreted under Canadian framework.

Stats Canada forecasts that by the year 2036, half of Canada’s population will be foreign-born or the children of immigrants.




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