What is The Stories of Us?
The Stories of Us is a program within the Department of Imaginary Affairs. The Stories of Us is focused on building an ESL library of newcomer stories, online and offline, written by newcomers themselves. Our goal is to create ESL resources that are reflective of the diverse range of newcomer experiences across Canada. To this end, we work with newcomers through a series of scaffolded storytelling / storywriting workshops to unpack the stories that they feel compelled to share. Published stories are available to download for free on our website, and are ranked by CLB level for ease of use. Furthermore, the English text of each story is intentionally displayed side-by-side with the author’s home language text to maintain accessibility and honor both languages.
About the curriculum
English language learning programs for newcomers represent an ideal environment in which to incorporate storytelling as a tool and a practice. Among other impacts, embedding storytelling into the LINC curriculum can support confidence-building, a key challenge for newcomers who often face multiple barriers to meaningful integration and employment in their new country. In many ways, a job interview requires an applicant to tell their story in a compelling way while integrating their past, present, and future. Our curriculum aims to give newcomers the tools and the vocabulary to start unpacking and sharing their story with their peers, on their own terms. This process in turn helps to build a deeper sense of community and connection among peers, as well as between students and teachers.
Our theory of change for implementing this storytelling curriculum with LINC classes is as follows:
Participants work on understanding and writing their stories for themselves
Participants share their stories with their peers and are validated that their stories are important
Participants are able to speak confidently about themselves in English, both within and outside of formal language learning programs
This Storytelling x LINC Curriculum was designed by Mathura Mahendren, Program Manager at Department of Imaginary Affairs as a part of The Stories of Us program. The curriculum was piloted in partnership with Mennonite New Life Centre (MNLCT), with their LINC 3/4 and 5 /6 classes at their Victoria Park location. LINC teachers Marie Roder and Teresa Wiens were instrumental to the implementation and success of this pilot. The curriculum is informed by the learnings from this pilot.