The Communication Skills Help Desk is here to support students looking to drop-in or receive ongoing tutoring.  

By: Ethan Ani

The Communications Skills Help Desk is a new support being provided to all Red River 

College students who need immediate help with communication and language skills. 

No registration is required for students to receive help on assignments through a drop-in basis or ongoing tutoring. Services are offered in  groups or one-on-one sessions. 

Carleigh Friesen, EAL Specialist, poses for a snapshot Friday afternoon in her office located inside Red River College’s Exchange District Campus. “Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness,” Friesen says. /ETHAN ANI

30-year-old EAL specialist, Carleigh Friesen, tutors those whose first language isn’t English. 

Friesen said seeing quick progress in the students she works with one-on-one is the most rewarding part of her job. 

According to Friesen, there’s a misconception that attending language tutoring will add to one’s schedule, but the ultimate goal is to make life and preparation easier in college programs.  

“My goal is for you to not need to see me anymore,” Friesen said, “I want you to have independence and to go out and soar because that’s the purpose of what I do.”

Friesen wants students to know that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness and said the stigma around tutoring is “pointless”. 

Steve Chiem, an electrical engineering technology student from Vietnam, said he once felt the fear students have before deciding to take on tutoring. 

Carleigh Friesen (left), shares a laugh with 19-year old student, Steve Chiem (right) in her office at the Exchange District Campus. /ETHAN ANI

“Some have thoughts that tutors don’t have enough patience for them,” the 19-year-old student said. “I had that feeling too, but I overcome it because… they really are patient.” 

Chiem said the English tutoring has been helpful, and he’d even prefer more sessions to improve his language skills more quickly. 

“Any international student, or whoever’s first language isn’t English, don’t be afraid to go and ask for tutoring,” Chiem said. 

Friesen said she is trying to reduce the stigma surrounding tutoring as much as possible. 

“It comes down to culture sometimes,” Friesen said, “it’s not that anyone is wrong, it’s just that different cultures have preferred styles, and understanding those fundamentals and adjusting to them will give you a desired outcome.” 

The language specialists staffing the Communications Skills Help Desk offer many free services that aim to prepare and help students as part of the Academic Success Centre. 

Friesen (left), assists Chiem (right) on an assignment Friday afternoon. The pair work together in her office by the Open Tutoring Area at the Exchange District Campus. /ETHAN ANI

Friesen said she will be holding a business technology management workshop on November 12 to make sure student’s language meet the needs of their assignments.