The lack of advanced English skills limits opportunities for employment, professional advancement, respectable wages, and social inclusion for new immigrants and non-native English speaking Canadians equally. It is clear to many ESL professionals that there is no such thing as an abstract adult ESL learner, and that is why providing a range of ESL programs is extremely important. According to ESL Matters campaign, more than a half of ESL students at VCC are university-educated skilled workers with degrees from outside Canada. These students can feel marginalized and discouraged due to their changed social status, and English proficiency plays as important role in creating a new identity for this group of people.
It is obvious that without strong written and oral skills ESL learners are unable to completely integrate into Canadian society, despite their own will to do so. This process is also slowed down by negative attitudes of the English-only-speaking population towards non-native English speakers. It promotes “how about they learn English before they come here” expectations among English speaking Canadians, fueling individual prejudice and institutional discrimination. In other words, this situation limits chances of cross-cultural enrichment and fruitful dialogue among all groups of Canadian society. This situation inevitably contributes to the growing social stratification, making budget cuts to advanced ESL programs at Vancouver public colleges and institutes counter to logic. ESL programs for adults contribute to the development of society at large and that is why we all should see adult ESL training not as a burden and a threat, but as a social responsibility toward all Canadians.