A Simon Fraser University student-tutoring program recently expanded its scope to help more students in the Lower Mainland with literacy skills.
The Friends of Simon program connects university students with immigrant students at 200 elementary schools - and, new for this year, at 65 high schools - in Burnaby, Coquitlam and Surrey. The majority of students are from immigrant families who have recently settled in the Lower Mainland, said coordinator Angela Flumerfelt.
"Immigrant students often come both having to catch up on their literacy skills and their basic academic skills and, at the same time, have to learn English, so it's a huge challenge for them," she said. "Sometimes the schools aren't able to address all of that within the school day."
More than 80 students from different departments at SFU - about half from the Faculty of Education - spend an average of twice a week with groups of two or three students. Cariboo Hill students in grades 8 and 9 signed up in the fall for the Friends of Simon: Rogers group, sponsored by the Rogers Youth Fund, to get help during after-school hours.
Tutors help them with homework and incorporate reading and thinking games that promote English-speaking skills. At Hillside Gardens, a government-subsidized housing complex in Edmonds, tutor Sherry Lin works with elementary school students who need a boost with their English language skills.
The fourth-year human geography major is planning to become a teacher and said the opportunity to gain experience in the community is priceless.
"It's a reciprocal relationship because I learn as much from the kids as they do from us," she said.
For more information, visit www. educ.sfu.ca/friends.