The Practice of Supporting International Students Learning English in Canada: Grounding Decisions in Evidence and Lived Experience


  • Alanna Carter Seneca College



Second language, life needs, international students, ESL support


This paper is a response to the language, learning, and life needs of the increasing number of international students studying in Canada. In addition to introducing two “real-life” international students who chose to live in Canada to learn English and otherwise study, the paper presents what the literature tells us about: international students in general; culture shock and acculturation; the struggle of international students for identity, based on the International Student Identity model; and mental health issues among this learner group. It then juxtaposes key themes found in the literature with the life experiences of the aforementioned students. Implications for students, extracurricular and preparatory program planners, and classroom instructors are shared. Given the role of many continuing education centres in providing ESL instruction and supports, the paper holds particular value for educators and administrators in the continuing education sector.


Author Biography

Alanna Carter, Seneca College

Alanna Carter has taught international students at the University of Toronto, at Seneca College (Toronto), and in the private education sector. Alanna’s expertise in English as a second language builds on her undergraduate degrees in English (Dalhousie University) and education (University of Ottawa). She also holds an MEd from the University of New Brunswick, in which she concentrated on curriculum development for language acquisition and the experiences of international students in Canada.


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