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The Stories of Us Curriculum


About Department of Imaginary Affairs

Department of Imaginary Affairs is a national nonprofit. We seek, collect, and share stories of new and developing Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Every story helps us learn more about the people who live in Canada. Through our projects, we share these stories in the hopes of creating a nation of empathetic citizens, public services, and policies.

About The Stories of Us

The Stories of Us is a program within 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.

About this 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.

It was a kind of psychological work, because when we came to Canada we were very busy doing this and that. I never stopped to think about what I felt or what I was scared of. With this project, I stopped and I started to think. It was good psychological work.

– Workshop Participant

Before, I didn’t have enough speaking power to explain my feelings. Through these workshops, I learned lots of new words and my writing improved.

– Workshop Participant

My view of my story has changed because before I thought there was nothing interesting in my life, it’s monotonous. But after remembering each and every part, I realized that there are many good things that have happened to me.

– Workshop Participant

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