The year 2020 marks the UVic English Language Centre's (ELC) 50th anniversary. Like many of my long-time ELC colleagues, this milestone has me shaking my head, wondering where the years have gone and eagerly anticipating the next steps of the ELC's journey. The ELC started in 1970 as part of UVic's Linguistics department, offering English as an Additional Language (EAL) to small groups (30 to 75 students) each summer. The biggest group attending ELC programs in those days was sent by the government-funded 'Explore' program, from French Canada. Explore students still join our programs to this day and we look forward to hosting them every May.
I joined the ELC as an instructor in the summer of 1993 and have been here ever since. At that time, for me to keep my teaching position, the ELC needed to have 150 students in the program. We had 10 teachers who worked full-time and we hired a few additional teachers for August programs. Part of the teachers' duties was to have lunch together with the students every day and we knew each one of them by name. By that time we had grown to about 850 enrollments per year, and all classes were organized manually using an Excel spreadsheet.
Today, over 3,200 student enrollments each year necessitate an instructional staff of 32 full-time instructors, 34 part-time instructors and 80 Cultural Assistants (CA) in peak seasons. Amazingly, we still know most of the students by name, as our dedicated Registration team works closely with them before their arrival. As well, our CAs remain a crucial source of support to our students throughout their studies. Steady growth in our student numbers over the years has allowed the ELC to expand its programs, services and facilities exponentially. ELC programs now begin every month and offer an increasingly diverse range of activities which allow students to learn more about Canadian culture while practicing their English skills.