YPLS activities enhance ESL experience

YPLS activities enhance ESL experience by Dahlia Liwsze


 YPLS student Zichen encounters a tarantula at the Ottawa Insectarium

"We provide activity opportunities for our students not just as a fun add-on,
but rather as a core component of our program."
Greg Duggan, Director of Studies, YPLS

What do insectariums, archery, tag ball, and soccer tournaments have in common? They are some of the activities that the Young People’s Language School (YPLS) offers to help its students enjoy their ESL studies.

To help ease the winter blues in February, YPLS students were delighted (mostly the boys!) by the creepy crawly creatures at the Ottawa Insectarium on Sparks Street. From beetles and fuzzy tarantulas to stick insects and a mellow gecko, there was something for everyone. It was science class outside of the classroom.

In May, YPLS students went to Tag Zone in Vanier to burn off some energy and battle it out during a tag ball game. Unlike paint ball, tag ball involves reusable foam ammunition and is less painful (and messy!) than having paint hit you.
YPLS activity leader Chelsea Chapman said that she particularly enjoyed the Archery Games activity in August. “None of the students knew what to do. They’d never done it before; I’d never done it either. We all did it together, which was really nice.”

However, Chapman’s favourite activity is playing sports with the kids. “Soccer is the most international sport; I don’t even need to explain anything. They already know how to play. It’s funny to hear them ask: ‘Miss, you play?’” “Yes” is the answer as Chapman has played competitive soccer for 14 years, including time on her high school team.

YPLS’s after-school activity program gives its diverse student body extra opportunities to use English in a variety of situations. “It’s a really good way for them to practice their English because they’re all from different countries,” Chapman said.

Chapman has been the YPLS activity leader since July 2017 and loves “getting to know the students and seeing their English improve (while) connecting with them through activities… and seeing them ‘come out of their shells’ during activities.”

YPLS Director of Studies Greg Duggan also enjoys playing sports and frequently joins the students on field trips. “We provide activity opportunities for our students not just as a fun add-on, but rather as a core component of our programming,” said Duggan.“ Experiential learning is a proven way to increase student engagement, use English in authentic situations, and promote a sense of community for both students and staff. Its importance can’t be overstated.” 


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