Ernesto worked as a financial planner for a large bank in Colombia. He had a good job and a good life, but he did not feel that he or his family were safe. And so, he decided to move to Canada, to live in a safe country and to establish himself so that he could bring his family to Canada as well.
Ernesto worked hard to improve his English at an ESL class. It was difficult at first; he understood almost everything people said to him, but his responses got stuck in his brain. His speaking skills did not develop as fast as his reading and writing skills. He thought too hard before he spoke, and conversations did not flow naturally. Ernesto was aware that conversations had awkward pauses as people would wait for him to finish.
After two month, Ernesto could speak comfortably to most people, and the conversations flowed more naturally. He took the Job Preparation class, which helped him prepare his résumé and cover letter. He practised interview skills and learned how to sell himself.
After six months of classes, Ernesto felt confident enough in his language skills to hunt for a job in the financial field. Now Ernesto is working in the financial department of a non-profit organization. After three long years apart, he was able to sponsor his wife and children (who are now studying English.)
Fatima grew up in a small remote village in the mountains of Pakistan. There was little opportunity to learn to read or write – especially for three girls in one family.
Accompanied by her two sisters, Fatima first came to our school in 2002. The three sisters came in to the assessment holding hands, and shaking their heads to any attempt to separate them. The only question Fatima could answer was her name. All three struggled to write their names on the registration form. They began full-time classes in the beginner class that week.
Ten weeks later, when their father brought them in to register for the next session, he had to wipe a tear from his eye as his daughters confidently completed the personal information part of the form. Fatima worked hard for the next few years. Her progress was slower than average because she was learning how to learn, as well as learning English. She progressed from the beginner level up to the advanced classes. In November of 2007, Fatima registered for the Grade 11 English credit program.