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Results from Year Two of the ELL Pilot

Many families in the HIPPY program are isolated immigrant and refugee mothers with low-level English skills. Recognizing this, the Mothers Matter Centre designed Early Language Learning (ELL) as one of its newcomer innovations.

Early Language Learning Pilot

In addition to HIPPY Home Visits, HIPPY mothers attend two-hour neighbourhood-based English language groups twice a week to work on improving their language skills. ELL is currently in its second year pilot, and we are continuing to make improvements to the program based on the pilot’s feedback to better serve HIPPY clients. ELL was piloted at ISSofBC and Working Women Community Centre.

We’ve compiled the learnings and key takeaways from the September-December 2019 pilot period to see how participants responded to the ELL curriculum, materials, and format.


31 classes carried out in ELL between September-December 2019 in Vancouver and Toronto.

Over 82 hours were spent in group learning.

147 hours of ELL support was provided to parents.

Mothers enrolled in ELL spent over 151 hours trying to learn English language based on the support they received individually and in group settings.

What worked in the ELL pilot:

Mothers reported to have used English language in their child’s school and at church.

Mothers used words they learned at class to make sentences with their Home Visitors and English language instructor.

65% of mothers felt they are better at connecting with their communities due to support received through ELL.

ETO data shows that mothers used English language 80% of the times they interacted with others within their communities.

Revised curriculum was appreciated by target communities and staff as being a quality guide for facilitating newcomers to learn English

HIPPY mothers engage well with the peer model when their Home Visitor has similar experiencing in parenting.

Here’s what we’re working on improving:


Many HIPPY mothers had English language levels too high for this year’s curriculum that focused on lower level and pre-literacy mothers.


Attendance was affected by issues surrounding transportation, healthcare needs, outside appointments, weather, other commitments, travel, and settlement needs.

Childminding support for newcomer children affected HIPPY mother’s ability to remain enrolled in ELL, especially for children under 18 months.

Due to the weekly time commitment of the ELL Pilot, which was two half days on top of a one hour HIPPY home visit, some HIPPY mothers found it difficult to manage their participation on top of pre-existing home and family commitments (especially as mothers are often the main caregiver).

Notable Stories

There are always stories of inspiration that come out of our programs and encourage us to continue refining and enhancing our programs to better serve the communities in need of the support.

One HIPPY mother who previously did not want to interact with others (as she did not understand what they were saying) reported that she is now more comfortable interacting with others in her community and neighbourhood. She feels that she still needs more practice speaking in English but has improved a lot in her comprehension thanks the the support from the English language instructor, Home Visitors, and her HIPPY peers.

Another HIPPY mother shared that their child has made great improvement after attending HIPPY program. The child is very excited every time they complete an activity from the curriculum, and usually keeps the completed activities in their backpack so they can show it at their kindergarten the following day.

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