The path for immigrants to integrate into the Canadian workforce has become a little easier, thanks to a new online Occupation-specific Language Training course focusing on improving work-related writing skills.
“Building writing skills is so important for newcomers, because it allows them to avoid communication mistakes… and to communicate more effectively with supervisors, colleagues and clients or customers.”
OSLT is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and coordinated by Colleges Ontario. The courses are delivered in a variety of formats by colleges across Ontario and are geared to the following occupation areas: automotive trades, business, construction, health sciences, human services and technology.
Professional Writing Skills is a new course option for OSLT business and technology graduates. It is an online course that helps newcomers to Ontario develop the knowledge and skills they need to complete written communication in the workplace. Individuals who have successfully completed a business or technology OSLT course are able to take the Professional Writing course if they would like to further work on their professional writing skills.
“Building writing skills is so important for newcomers, because it allows them to avoid communication mistakes that can be embarrassing and stressful, and to communicate more effectively with supervisors, colleagues and clients or customers,” says course teacher Brenda Engberts, who has been delivering the course. The course is currently offered through Sheridan College but other colleges delivering OSLT can also refer graduates to this online course.
This 45-hour course features weekly one-hour faculty-led web conferences along with components participants carry out on their own time, such as completing writing assignments, watching instructional videos on different aspects of effective writing, participating in small group discussions with other participants and completing question-and-answer exercises. For each writing assignment, participants use a personalized checklist addressing tone, format, punctuation, spelling and more to help them assess and self-edit their writing. Participants are also encouraged to regularly read English-language magazine articles and websites throughout the course.
The first course attracted individuals with professional backgrounds in areas such as engineering, technology and business from China, Korea, Turkey and Iran. Opportunities for group work allowed participants to interact with each other and build their network, which is very useful for newcomers as they re-establish their careers in Ontario.
Engberts says by improving their professional writing skills, participants also increase the level of respect they earn during their job search and in the workplace.
“It doesn’t matter how qualified or confident you are — making mistakes in your writing reflects poorly on yourself and your company, and if you are a manager, it affects how your team views you,” Engberts says. “Being able to communicate accurately and appropriately in writing goes a long way to making a good impression with prospective employers and to helping you become viewed more favourably in the workplace.”
By Sharon Aschaiek (www.cocoamedia.ca)