I spoke today with an immigrant from China who has been in Canada for 7 years. He is obviously an energetic and enthusiastic person. He was a doctor in China. Here in Canada he is working in a casino. He is frustrated because even after 7 years he does not understand everything that is said and people do not always understand him. If he says 14 people think he said 40.
He said that he was most motivated to learn English before he came to Canada. In China his English was the best among his friends and acquaintances. Once he came to Canada he realized that his English was not good enough. He said that he felt “stupid”. This discouraged him.Now he wants to try again with The Linguist.
I had my hair cut today by a new barber. She is from Japan and has been in Canada for 20 years. Up till now she had mostly Japanese clients and was busy at home bringing up her children. She was too busy to learn to speak English properly. Now that her children are grown up she has decided to learn English. She is enrolled in a local school where she goes four nights a week for two and a half hours each time. She was told that rather than just studying English, if she enrolled for Adult Education and went for her high school diploma, her studies would be totally free.She is now at the Grade six level, in other words, not yet in high school.
Her classmates are mostly Chinese, mostly with university diplomas. They are at the grade six level because of their English. Their studies are free. Everyday they get homework. The teacher gets angry at many of these students because they do not do their homework, and attendance is very poor. Now that Chinese New Year is approaching, few students bother showing up. But when they show up there are 15 students in the class and my Japanese barber has trouble understanding what her classmates have to say in English. On the positive side she has made some new friends.
Now back to the immigrant from China I mentioned in the first paragraph. He is the kind of person who would not attend a free language school just because it was free. He is not a complainer. He lives in a neighbourhood with no Chinese neighbours. He lives in a town house which suggests that he is not wealthy. He has no trouble speaking to his neighbours when they come over. His wife however does. I am hoping they both enroll in The Linguist. I hope they stay away from the schools subsidized by the government, where they can make new Chinese friends but will not really progress in their English.