Professional Profiles

English Language and Culture Program paves the way to SFU

Nina Dong is doing a bachelor's degree at SFU after completing the English Language and Culture Program.

By Amy Robertson

Thanks to SFU Continuing Studies' English Language and Culture (ELC) Program, Nina Dong is exactly where she wants to be: in an undergraduate program at Simon Fraser University.

The young woman grew up in a city near Shanghai, China, and hoped to study at a Canadian university. Family friends had told her about SFU, and its reputation for quality as well as the choices and independence it would offer appealed to her.

She had one problem: Her English skills—writing in particular—weren’t quite as good as she wanted them to be.

ELC prepares student for SFU admission

She decided that SFU’s English Language and Culture Program, which focuses on preparing international students for success in life and at university in North America, was the solution.

“It was a good way to get used to this life and studying in Canada,” she says.

Dong arrived in the fall of 2012 to spend four months in ELC’s English immersion program, during which she learned local vocabulary and communication methods and practised her English both in class and during field trips around Vancouver.

On Fridays, she took an IELTS specialization course, and her hard work paid off. After only a month in the program, her scores met admissions standards for SFU, her first-choice school.

Dong’s experience in ELC was so positive that she decided to stay on for one more term to improve her English even more. To prepare for her planned economics major, she took ELC’s business communications specialization, during which she learned things like effective presentation skills.

Overall, she says, “It was a very wonderful experience…I think it’s worth studying there.”

Dong received her acceptance letter soon after completing ELC, and began her studies at SFU in May 2013. They’re going well—she calls herself “very lucky.”

Program helps thousands of students succeed

Colleen Wood, ELC’s director, has been working with students like Dong for nearly two decades. “I’ve watched thousands of students pass through ELC on their way to their various futures,” she says.

“Many of our alumni come back to tell us in person how grateful they are for the time they spent in ELC, emphasizing that the program fundamentally equipped them for the challenges they faced as they transitioned into a Canadian college or university. 

“Our instructors not only teach them about using the English language, but also inspire them to reflect deeply on their own personal goals and objectives in order to make the best possible choices about their next steps. Many hope that next step is SFU.”