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

Langley council will hear petition to rename park after teen overdose victim

With 3,500 signatures so far, organizer is thinking of closing down online campaign

Best Set Decoration and Best Supporting Actress for Langley Players Club production

Dancing at Lughnasa among winners at the 26 Annual Community Theatre Coalition Awards

‘Longevity doesn’t just happen all the time’

Langley Community Music School celebrates half-a-century with Rose Gellert Hall Series Gala

Langley land owned by man dead since 1922 needed for pipeline

Trans Mountain is looking for heirs so it can gain access to 500 square feet of land

VIDEO: TWU Spartans defeat Bisons

Third straight win of the season for Langley-based university soccer team

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Police investigate after intoxicated teens clash with security at B.C. fair

18-year-old woman arrested and RCMP looking at possible assault in Victoria-area fall fair incident

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Winnipeg student, killed in bus crash, remembered as passionate, kind

University of Victoria student Emma Machado, 18, was killed in the bus crash near Bamfield on Friday

B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

Communities eligible for $100,000 for permanent closures

Most Read