Punjabi classes connect communities

April 30, 2009

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Students in Punjabi Beginners Level I at the Surrey campus are young and old, male and female, Caucasian and South Asian. But they all share the same goal: to better communicate with people in one of Greater Vancouver’s largest and fastest growing communities.

"A large portion of donors speak Punjabi, so I would like to communicate better with them," says Yolande Benoit, who works for the Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation.

"I run a vegetable farm in the Fraser Valley and most of my employees are Punjabi folks and I want to be able to communicate with them a little bit more effectively," Harvey Snow explains, confessing that he finds the course "challenging" on top of his regular work.

"I want to communicate better with my husband’s parents and his grandma," says Michelle Dhillon, who says that she finds the course easier than some others in the class, because she speaks Hindi.

Entry-level Punjabi is one of many non-credit language courses, says Linda Kornik, coordinator of language programs for SFU Continuing Studies. SFU also offers courses in Cantonese, Mandarin, German and Korean.

The popular Punjabi course, offered only at the Surrey campus, is intended for working adults. "Many are Punjabi themselves," says instructor Sumanpal Singh Dhillon. "They can speak it but can’t write it. Or they want to be able to communicate better with their grandparents."

This summer, the campus is introducing a kids’ Punjabi language and culture program, initially as a two-week day camp. The new program for 8- to 12-year-olds is designed to help Indo-Canadian youths strengthen their connections with their linguistic and cultural roots.

SFU has offered non-credit language courses for more than 20 years. The average course runs 12 weeks and costs around $325, says Kornik, excluding certificate and degree programs in translation and interpretation. www.sfu.ca/cstudies/lang


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Isabelle Chauss


I live in Montreal and would be very interested in a Punjabi language course. Is there a course I could follow online? If not, would you happen to know where a could find a Punjabi course online or not (if near Montreal).

Many thanks for your help!

Isabelle Chauss

jim dogger

isablee chauss yes contact gathka@hotmail.com he is a friend and a punjabi teacher.

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