Yvonne Hopp founded New Directions nearly 30 years ago. She started the program in her backyard with just two employees. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Yvonne Hopp founded New Directions nearly 30 years ago. She started the program in her backyard with just two employees. (Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Founder of Langley ESL school started up in her backyard nearly 30 years ago

Yvonne Hopp used all her savings to start New Directions in 1990

It’s been nearly three decades of supporting newcomers to Canada for a Langley woman and she’s not planning on stopping anytime soon.

Yvonne Hopp, 65, said she first got the idea to start a program to better support people in the workforce when she was working for the government handling unemployment insurance claims.

“I met so many people that were really unhappy with their work and I decided I wanted to do something to help them,” she said. “I just came up with the idea of New Directions which would help people find ways to be better equipped for the work they wanted.”

New Directions Vocational Testing and Counselling Services Ltd. is part of the federal government’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program and works with the community in Langley to support new permanent residents and refugees by helping them learn English.

READ MORE: B.C. students learning for ‘real life’ but teachers say reality needs funding

“We are trying to work with employers to find ways that meet their needs as well,” said Hopp.

When Hopp first started the program she used all her savings and had to take out a line of credit.

“In those early years I believe it was $5,000 of savings and I was able to get a $10,000 line of credit,” she said.

She started the program in 1990 in her backyard, with just two employees.

“I was so motivated I just wanted to do it, but through the years you do have many setbacks and you have to be resilient to move ahead and adapt,” said Hopp.

In 2018 the school served just over 700 students.

Last August, Hopp and her team submitted a research proposal to the government for a new learning model called the Open Learning Centre to improve how the program serves students.

“We’re finding it meets a lot of peoples needs that just can’t stay with a scheduled class… this allows them to write their own schedule around their work,” said Hopp.

The research project was approved for three years of funding and just wrapped up its first year. Hopp said this new model better supports individual students.

“It also is more efficient for someone that needs to really concentrate on a skill that’s low rather than studying all four of the skills that they may not actually need,” she said.

READ MORE: More Langley residents raised speaking non-official language

Although Hopp is now eligible to collect a pension, she doesn’t have plans to retire.

“I have worked with newcomers for about 30 years and I love doing it because I get to meet people from all over the world… it allows me to work with women and giving them the opportunity to learn English certainly empowers them.”

One of those women is her former student Thao Nguyen Vuu. Vuu immigrated to Canada from Vietnam in 2017 and has completed several LINC programs since then.

“The program is really really good, and the teachers are very nice,” said Vuu. “They also helped me learn about Canada (and) about the law.”

Vuu said the program was a great place to make friends and said it helped improve her confidence.

“(The program) is really meaningful to me because I couldn’t speak English when I immigrated here,” she said.

Vuu is currently enrolled at Vancouver Career College and is studying to become an education assistant.

New Directions accepts new students throughout the year and Hopp said they are always looking for volunteers.



joti.grewal@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Higher sales of cannabis helped Canadian farmers come out in the green. (Black Press Media File)
Cannabis processing could start shop in North Langley

Company is the latest to work on industrial operations locally

Langley Quilters Guild helped honour two long-time members of the Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, including Pat Walker (left), with “beautiful quilts” to express appreciation for their years of service to the non-profit. Her quilt was presented by Nuala Adderley (right), the guild vice-president. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Giving everlasting thanks to devoted Langley volunteers

Quilts given to two women who donate more than 30+ years each to Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary

Nixon Mahovlic, 8, was inspired by kindness week at Fort Langley Elementary so he set out to collect bottles to raise money for a local family in need. (Steve Mahovlic/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Langley man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Surrey RCMP in the 4900-block of 148th Street, a short road just off of King George Boulevard, on May 15, 2021 after a male was allegedly assaulted with a “pipe-like” weapon that morning. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey RCMP investigating after person reportedly injured with ‘pipe-like’ weapon

Police investigating incident in the 4900-block of 148th Street

Most Read