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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vandals deface Aldergrove elementary school with racist slur, male genitalia

Langley School District confirms it has filed a report with the Langley RCMP

‘Our hands are tied’: Langley Good Times Cruise-In announces cancellation due to COVID-19

People are encouraged to donate to the chosen Langley charities online, said Cruise-In director

Sources receives $70K from SurreyCares

Funds will help with warehouse space for food programs in Surrey, White Rock, Langley

Conservationists in race against time to rehabilitate grizzly cubs transferred to Aldergrove zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

Pink flags on Langley church grounds raise awareness about sex-selective abortion

On Saturday, 1,000 pink flags will be placed on the lawn of Christ Covenant Church

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Man shot dead in east Abbotsford suburbs

Integrated Homicide Investigative Team called to investigate

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Police nab three impaired drivers in one night in Maple Ridge

Ridge Meadows RCMP served 80 impaired driving infractions in June

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

Most Read