Photo: Jennifer Friesen
Daljit Parhar, left, and Ismail Dandia talk about their struggles growing up as ELL (English Language Learner) students in Calgary.

Two Calgarians are working to remove roadblocks for English-language learner (ELL) students floundering in the city’s public-school system.

Stemming from their own struggles as former ELL students in Calgary, Ismail Dandia and Daljit Parhar launched Eroodyt, an online platform that aggregates tutors in a variety of fields.

Dandia said their focus narrowed to tutors for ELL students when they first heard about the 3.1 per cent cut to funding for ELL students in the Alberta government’s March 2015 budget.

“Hearing about the budget cuts hit hard for us because our parents are immigrants,” Dandia said. “English was pivotal to our careers, and we definitely faced a lot of challenges through the school system, especially in grade school.”

Hetty Roessingh, a professor of education at the University of Calgary, has heavily investigated issues surrounding the lack of supports for ELL students in primary schools and how that can dramatically impede academic growth.

Roessingh said the problem is often these children seem like they’re progressing — they can print, read and speak clearly — but end up hitting a wall around Grade 4 when academic demands heighten.