ESL Rural Routes Newsletter


Community Snapshot


Tips and Hints

Current News

Upcoming Events

June 26, Edmonton
Foundational and Intercultural Studies Information Night

October 16-18, Calgary
Literacy and Learning Symposium
Theme: Collective Impact - Strengthening Our Communities

November 1-2, Calgary
ATESL Conference
Theme: Transitions - School, Workplace and Community


Have you developed resources or discovered unique ways to meet your community’s needs? Would you like to be in our Community Snapshot feature? Contact us to share your knowledge and ideas. Email


Regions Map


R1: Northern Region
R2: NorQuest Stewardship & Eastern Region
R3: Central, Calgary & Red Deer Region
R4: Southern Region


June 2013

Win Adult Literacy and ESL Resources

We're excited to announce our web scavenger hunt contest.

There are many great features of our new website and we want to reward you for learning about them.

For contest details, visit our website.

New Consultants

In this issue we want to welcome Jacky Rivas (serving Region 1), Gavin Palmer (serving Region 2) and Sara Gnida (serving Region 3) to the Rural Routes team. As a provincial initiative, we have committed to positioning consultants throughout the province who are able to provide service in a timely and cost effective manner. To that end we created the Rural Routes Regions, splitting the province into four.

Check out our regional map to see which region you connect to.

You can learn about the consultant available to your region and contact them by visiting our Consultants page.

Community Snapshot - County of Forty Mile

Organization name:
Forty Mile Community Adult Learning Association

Contact person:
Jodi Cassell (

Community Profile

  • Includes Foremost, Bow Island, Burdett, Etzikom, Whitlaw, Manyberries, Skiff and Hoping.
  • Low German Mennonite (Mexico, U.S.)

English Language Learner Support Services

  • Write Break Literacy Project (Bow Island site)

  • Tutoring Program

  • Drop-In Centre

  • Drop-in courses (drivers’ ed., pre-welding for apprenticeship)

  • Mennonite Conference – Held annually as a way to create conversation between community agencies and the Mennonite population, while building community knowledge.

Community Challenges

  • Language – Issues arise around health care, schooling, employment because of low English language abilities.

  • Location – Access to service/classes (County of 40 Mile covers a large land area and many communities, so it is often hard to provide service that doesn’t require a drive for the learners.)

  • ESL Literacy – Most Low German Mennonites have not had access to education beyond Grade 6, with some having even less. This makes language programming more complex.

  • Early school leaving for children (age 12) – Keeping numbers in schools to sustain community schools and to improve access to the workforce (high school completion)

  • Seasonal Employment – Many learners are farm workers, so programming must accommodate their schedules.

  • Shortage of Instructors/Tutors – We need a handful of people in each community identified above to help with everyday language and with community assimilation. 

Community Support

  • Family Community Support Services

  • Tru-co

  • Kamber Fab

  • Alberta Health Services

  • Best Babies/Building Blocks

  • Municipal Libraries – Bow Island and Foremost

  • Evangelical Free Church (day class venue)

  • Senator Gershaw School (evening class venue)



Online IELTS FAQs 

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a globally recognized language assessment tool that conforms to the highest international standards. The test covers all four language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, and is offered in both a general and an academic version. The IELTS band scores are accepted as proof of proficiency in over 6000 worldwide post-secondary organizations, governments, and professional institutions including Canadian Immigration services, and many Canadian businesses hiring temporary foreign workers. Learn more by reading this FAQ about IELTS.

Downloadable Online Resource

Even though the following resource was written for the city of Toronto, the lessons contain great information that is applicable to rural Alberta. This resource also provides a good example of lessons at different CLB levels.

TORONTO POLICE NEWCOMER OUTREACH LINC/ESL LESSON PLANS –The Toronto Catholic District School Board, Adult Education Program, has developed five language lesson plans for instructors who teach English as a Second Language to adult immigrants new to Canada. These plans are based on Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) and cover a range from CLB 1 to 6. The language lessons follow the lessons developed by the Toronto Police Service, which are found on this website:

Activity for the Class - Using Venn Diagrams

Have you ever seen a diagram with two overlapping circles? That’s a Venn diagram. Venn diagrams are a multi-purpose tool to use in the classroom.

Level: All levels
Skills: Vocabulary development, spelling, foundation for writing assignments
Activity: The instructor or volunteer prepares a Venn diagram similar to the following. 

Download a larger venn diagram

Learners use the diagram to compare and contrast two things. Where the circles overlap, we place similarities between the two things. Examples of things to compare and contrast might include these topics: schools in your home country and Canada; two different jobs; two families. Remember, you write similarities in the middle and differences on either side. Learners especially love the opportunity to share information about their home countries with the tutor, instructor, or each other. This activity works both with one-on-one and classroom delivery.

For further examples of the many ways Venn diagrams can be used to benefit your learners, take a look at the Roots and Connections Curriculum resource. For examples of other graphic organizers you could use with your students, visit

Tips & Hints

Tracking your learners' progress

Tracking your learners’ progress is as important to you as it is to your learners. I did not use the word assessing here because it sometimes carries a negative connotation of “testing” or even “impossible.” While we all know assessment is an important part of a program, we have limited time to spend with learners and it’s difficult to fit everything in.

However, assessment is not just testing. It’s likely that you are already performing many types of assessment, but you may not be calling it assessment. Assessment can include observation, anecdotal notes, dated samples of reading and writing, reading logs, journals, demonstrations and presentations, skill checklists, and rubrics. For a complete look at three types of assessment and ideas on how to integrate assessment into programs, visit the ESL Literacy Network – Integrating Assessment.

Tracking your learners’ progress gives you and your learner a sense of accomplishment. It allows you to see what is working and what needs some adaptation. It’s also great information to share with your program coordinator.

If you would like learn more about different assessments or want to share your own examples of tracking learners, we’d love to hear from you! Send an email to with your favourite ideas.

Current News

Check out our new ESL Rural Routes Website!

The Rural Routes website has launched successfully. We’re excited to see the increase in users and hope you will share the site with tutors and other ESL providers in your community. We are especially hoping you are able to connect to a variety of resources and begin conversations on the forums. The consultants will be checking the forums regularly to answer any questions you may have.

Those regularly visiting the site will have seen the link to Intercultural Pilot. The dates for this free intercultural communication training in the fall have been posted. For the in-person session, a Rural Routes Consultant will schedule a time to deliver the training at your location. Use the online registration to connect to Rural Routes, and Barb Hudkins will help you to set up this initial workshop.

Remember, the sessions must be taken concurrently; we hope the multiple time slots facilitate this. If you have any questions, please contact Barb Hudkins.

Literacy and Learning Symposium

Rural Routes will again take the stage at the 2013 Literacy and Learning Symposium. Barb Hudkins, Jacky Rivas, and Sara Apedaile (the intercultural series developer) are presenting about the intercultural communication pilot project, and tools and resources for ESL Practitioners. Hope we see you there! 

Foundational and Intercultural Studies Information Session

NorQuest College is holding an Info Session on Wednesday, June 26th at 5 pm. Come and learn why we’re the best choice for:                        

  • English language training
  • academic upgrading
  • and employment preparation                         

Meet students and instructors, take a tour, learn about great student services and supports. Visitors could win a $100 Visa gift card or their application fee.

Pleas share if you know someone interested in these programs.

Upcoming Opportunities

Look for the Essential Skills for English in the Workplace workshops offered by the NorQuest Center for Intercultural Education this fall.  Dates and registration information will be sent out in September.

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