The NWT’s leading college for French and language study has had to contend with the inability to meet in classroom settings since the Covid-19 pandemic in March, but instructors say that things have been mostly positive as they have transitioned to online service.
College Nordique Francophone will be offering a series of free virtual language sessions Sept. 8-10 for French, Spanish and Tłı̨chǫ. This is being held in time for the registration deadline for the fall semester of Sept. 16. Classes resume on Sept. 21.
The college had already been offering online classroom services for several years through Adobe Connect – a program that offers a substitute for meeting in person, and which allows for collaborative learning between participants.
Although there was a bit of a learning curve with teaching classes exclusively online, language school coordinator Rosie Benning said the college had already been preparing to offer the service.
When the pandemic hit and public health orders were issued from the chief public health officer pertaining to groups of people in classrooms, Benning said the college had completed its winter semester and was in preparation for the spring. Only the Spanish and Tłı̨chǫ classes weren’t running online, but they are expected to be offered this fall.
“With everything happening (with Covid), we were recognizing that people needed ways to engage from home,” Benning said. “We wanted to seize that opportunity to provide services so that people could continue being engaged. In many ways, our quality of life decreased but we sort of wanted to counterbalance that by continuing to offering our classes.
“The timing was kind of nice in that our one session had just ended and our new session was just starting,” she said. “Right from the get-go, we were able to start our classes online for our spring session.”
The college has one semester completed with the Adobe Connect service and Benning said online service allows for more expansive ways of learning because people from outside Yellowknife – and even outside the Northwest Territories – can take part in classes.”
The program also allows for more interaction where class participants are split into small groups to work on assignments. There are also features such as document sharing, collaborative discussions and a central white board where everybody can write.
Tuition and hours will remain the same for all language courses. While the college has not recorded web videos for students, it’s something that could be done. There have been some hiccups with people not having adequate internet service, but the college continues to work around it.
“The internet is important for Adobe Connect to function,” said Benning. “But there is the possibility to call in (for classes).”
Learning Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)
Benning said the school is expanding by offering its Learning Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program to two instructors from one as of this fall. They will provide free English services for any permanent resident or refugee, or protected person or live-in caregiver.
Benning explained that although the service has been offered in the past exclusively for Francophone newcomers, the program will now be accessible at College Nordique Francophone for any newcomer with the appropriate status.