Welcome to CCI-LEX Community News!
We are excited to share the very first edition of CCI-LEX Community News!
The success of CCI-LEX relies on the generosity of those that give their time, money, knowledge and skills, and over this past year especially, words of support and encouragement. We thought it was time to start communicating in a more regular way with all of you – our friends and supporters – in order to share your impact on CCI-LEX and our learners.
We hope you will enjoy receiving 4-5 newsletters a year from us. Our aim is to share general news and highlights, both successes and challenges, and of course, to celebrate the people of CCI-LEX, including some awesome student stories.
We’re just getting our toes wet with this first newsletter. We look forward to receiving your feedback and suggestions for the type of content you’d like to see in future editions. Also, feel free to let us know if you’d like to be a contributor.
Thank you and happy reading!
Anne-Marie Kallal, Executive Director
One Year In: Continued Impacts of the Pandemic
If you haven’t been in touch with us for a while, well, what can we say? Yes, we’re still here! We’ve adapted our programs to run online, and we’re still adapting.
Like so many, we continue to experience the yo-yo effect of the pandemic. We make changes according to the evolving conditions and restrictions, balancing health and safety with the unique needs of our learners, and then make changes again. Through it all, we’ve been able to do what we do best. We have continued to be responsive and flexible, supporting newcomers from all walks of life to be successful in their English language learning.
Our focus throughout has been on the people of CCI-LEX. What are our student needs? What are our teacher or volunteer needs? How can we support as many people as possible to make this transition? We have put a lot of time and energy into training people to get comfortable in the online environment, and we are continually modifying and improving our lessons for virtual delivery.
Over much of the past year we have delivered our classes in a variety of ways – in-person with small groups, blended, and fully online. In this way, we have been able to provide options to our diverse learners by meeting them where they are at. There have been those that absolutely love and thrive in online classes, while others who face barriers to online learning due to limited language, lack of digital literacy, or even lack of access to technology, have benefitted from having the choice to learn on-site. (After Easter, all classes moved online due to extremely high case numbers in Alberta).
Although we’ve done well in making this transition, overall student numbers are still down. There are learners not accessing classes due to the uncertainty in their daily lives caused by the pandemic, those that simply prefer to wait for in-person, and of course, the closure of borders and restrictions on international travel have also had an impact. CCI-LEX decided to take this as an opportunity to gather feedback, examine and revise curriculum, offer new learning clubs, and to pilot new classes, in order to better support our current students, as well as to potentially attract and retain new ones.
We continue to foster cultural exchange and information sharing in our classes, but truthfully, it is challenging to build strong community connections online– a key piece of CCI-LEX’s mandate. We look forward to the time when we can have larger numbers of people on-site and are able to organize group activities for socializing, recreation, and community volunteering – and then sharing those stories in this newsletter. There are some things you just can’t duplicate online!
However, for all its challenges, the past year has also brought opportunities. There are changes that have improved the way we work and have opened up new possibilities for how we can further help fill gaps and needs in the community. We are making better use of technology, communicating more regularly with students, developing new online classes, and the list goes on! We are learning from this experience, and we will be thoughtful in determining which pieces we keep and which areas we build upon, all the while considering what is the best fit for CCI-LEX and what will have the most benefit for our learners.
If you want to hear more about the past year, and what we are thinking for the road ahead, please join us at the CCI-LEX Annual General Meeting June 21 at 6pm via Zoom. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to register.
Learning from home, learning from each other
Student challenges of learning English in the past year.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to many changes in the daily lives of our students. Not only did they have to learn to use completely new technology and programs to attend class, they also had to adjust to the challenges of a virtual classroom. This proved to be a challenge for both our volunteers and students to stay connected. Yet, our students still demonstrated perseverance and a positive attitude in learning English!
In the past few months, we took the chance to try out different ways of student engagement through online clubs and activities. During a session of our English Conversation Club that runs every Friday, we spoke with a group of students and a volunteer teacher about what was the hardest thing about learning (and teaching) English during the pandemic.
Students expressed how they aren’t able to practice English after class because they have to stay at home. Technological issues and other struggles popped up during this time such as sharing the internet with their families. They miss the conversations they’re able to have with people face to face and realized how difficult it is to listen to their teachers speak through Zoom. Being in the same place for all their everyday activities proved to be difficult for learning as they’re not able to feel fully immersed in their learning environment.
One of our volunteer teachers, Shadi, expressed the difficulties of teaching when not all students have the same access to technology and the lack of in-person contact with lower level students made it particularly difficult to connect with them. Yet, Shadi also expressed that CCI-LEX gave her a sense of community and purpose, allowing her the chance to build connections that were lost during the pandemic.
Overall, our students from Conversation Club are grateful that our school stayed open, even if classes are online right now. They greatly appreciate the patient and relaxed environment that CCI-LEX provides them to learn English. The various online clubs and activities have allowed them the chance to feel connected to others. In the words of our students, “We are grateful for CCI-LEX, CCI-LEX is family.”
Happy (Belated) National Volunteer Week!
Learning beyond borders, dedication beyond measure.
Every minute is another chance to make a difference. Based on this idea, our volunteers at CCI-LEX have made over 148,500 “differences” in the past year!
In a year of great change and challenges, our volunteers managed the incredible feat of teaching 2475 hours in the past year. Over 85% of our students felt like their English improved and 75% felt more confident, truly demonstrating that every minute counts! The dedication of our volunteers has amounted to countless moments of growth, progress and lifelong memories for our students. The continuous growth and advancement of our programs simply could not happen without their support.
This past April, we celebrated National Volunteer Week a bit differently than in past years, but similar to the past, we are incredibly grateful for all the time and effort our volunteers have put into our programs. Although we tried our best, our appreciation for them simply cannot be expressed by mere statistics. If you’re curious to hear directly from our students the impact that their volunteer teachers have had on them, please click on the video below:
The sense of community and belonging that our students expressed they felt at CCI-LEX demonstrates the difference that every friendly smile, gentle gesture and patient answer makes in the lives of our students. The flexibility that our volunteers demonstrated allowed for various forms of teaching to occur in blended, in-person as well as online classes, allowing our students to learn in a new but safe and supported environment.
Based on our experiences in the past year, we can safely say that shifting to virtual learning wasn’t easy, but our amazing volunteers made it possible! If you’re interested in reading more student quotes about our volunteers, feel free to look through our thank you booklet that we put together for our volunteers for National Volunteer Week.
Once again, Happy (Belated) National Volunteer Week! We welcome anyone interested to apply as a volunteer and join our amazing team.
CCI-LEX Annual General Meeting
- June 21, 2021 6pm-7pm, via Zoom
- We reflect on the year’s successes and challenges, and what lies ahead.
- RSVP to email@example.com
Great Canadian Giving Challenge
- June 1- 30, 2021
- Help CCI-LEX win $20,000!
- Every dollar donated in June gives us a chance to win.
- Donations must be made via CanadaHelps in June
In March, CCI-LEX launched “Club Lexicon”, a monthly giving program for supporters of CCI-LEX to make their donations simpler. If you’re interested, we encourage you to join the club!
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