Embracing English as a Second Language

Embracing English as a Second Language
by Maritime

Rich international culture and language are represented by many countries during The Salvation Army’s English as a Second Language (ESL) classes offered at the Fairview Citadel Community Church. Because of high demand, two ESL classes are now offered each week – an intermediate class on Monday mornings and a beginner class on Thursday mornings.

Inspired by her love of teaching and the large immigrant population settling in Fairview, Paula Zwicker decided that ESL classes were a necessity. Her Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults (CELTA) and passion for helping others will drive Paula to offer the ESL classes as long as she can.

“I feel so much joy as I teach these classes; the students are so eager and excited to learn and it’s fun to learn about their cultures as well,” says Paula. “I wish the world was like my class, it’s beautiful.”

People from Russia, China, Korea, Syria, Libya and France attend the ESL classes, which they learn about through the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), the Keshen Goodman Library, and posters placed across the community. As many new immigrants wait to be accepted into English schools, they attend Paula’s classes that help them settle here, meet new friends and integrate into their new communities.

Khansaa Motlak from Syria brings her daughter with her to play in the kid’s area while she expands her English vocabulary. When tested almost a year ago, Khansaa was ranked a level three; she is eager to learn in January how the ranking has improved because of the ESL class. As an art teacher and hair stylist in Syria, Khansaa hopes to find a job in Halifax in one of these two professions.

Khansaa says, “Paula is a wonderful teacher and a wonderful person. I am very thankful for her, the timing and the location of this class.”

The first part of each class involves an English lesson focused on things like shopping for groceries, taking the bus, as well as reading and understanding Canadian currency. The second part of the class involves conversation and practice. Games like BINGO are also used to engage students as they practice their language skills through conversation.

A retired couple from Lyon, France, Dominique and Marie-Francoise Lionard moved to Nova Scotia to be close to their children and grandchildren. While their immigration process began five years ago and they have been here for only six months, they are very grateful for the ESL classes.

Jiawei Huang’s remarkable English is evident through a brief conversation. He and his wife immigrated to Nova Scotia from Shanghai, China through work permits; he is now working with Aramark at Dalhousie University’s Student Cafeteria.

“Canada is friendly and open to immigrants, which is why I chose this country out of four possible places to live.” Jiawei says his English has greatly improved as a result of this class. He hopes The Salvation Army can offer more classes like this.