For busy mom and sales professional, Firouzeh, finding time to study English was a problem. When she registered with English Online, she discovered that taking charge of her own learning path was necessary to succeed in building her English skills with her limited time. By doing so, she has gained renewed energy and confidence in her journey toward integration.
Firouzeh has always been interested in English, even as a student. She laments the fact that formal English instruction in Tehran, Iran didn’t start until junior high school unless you studied at a private school. At university, she thought about taking up English or Nursing and qualified for both. She chose a Nursing career but still continued learning English any way she could, even communicating with her son’s English teacher later on to improve her skills. When she moved to Canada, Firouzeh could converse in English but found it difficult to read and write.
Taking care of business
Learning English had to take a backseat when Firouzeh and her family arrived in Manitoba in 2012. The young family moved mainly for the benefit of their two young children. They also set up a business in Winnipeg, a store selling European shoes. Firouzeh became busy with sales and taking care of her family, so the English courses had to wait. After three years, they decided to sell the business and Firouzeh’s husband went back to Iran to explore new business opportunities. Meanwhile, Firouzeh took a job at a high-end furniture shop where she became involved again in sales. It took about a year and a half before she could finally find time to get back to studying. She saw English Online (EO) on a WELARC handout and decided to give online learning a try.
“I want to add that the one-on-one class gave me the confidence to volunteer. After a month of studying, I felt that I had the energy and was ready to contribute something,” she added. “I accomplished a CPR course, got a certificate, and applied for a child abuse registry check. They were all in English and I did it on my own”
Getting lost online and finding her learning style
Firouzeh’s first few weeks with EO were rough. She felt lost online. She was also insecure about her computer skills. It was a good thing that she decided to email Margarita, EO’s Lead e-Facilitator and LINC Home Study Coordinator, about her predicament. Margarita wrote back outlining the many activities she can start with and the pathways she could take based on her learning goals. “I followed Margarita’s advice. I did everything she said. And it helped me learn,” Firouzeh said.
She started participating in Virtual Coffee Chats and drop-in workshops. She also enrolled in the LINC Home Study Program early this year. “I found the right combination in studying LINC with Blaine and attending Coffee Chats with Yuliana. With Blaine, it is one-on-one learning. It really amazes me that he understands every newcomer’s accent. He always manages to encourage each student by recognizing their efforts, motivating us to work harder and increase participation.
“I also attend group chats. I always ask Yuliana about grammar rules. She is an expert at that. She also tells us about other resources and programs, like Lunch & Learn, that could improve our grammar. She is so helpful,” Firouzeh said.
“I have fun attending the Coffee Chats because I meet a lot of people who are determined to learn English. We have fun, share jokes with each other and it is okay. It’s not so serious, and I have fun while learning. It is a comfortable environment. I don’t know why, but maybe that’s the magic of the virtual classroom. Or maybe because, aside from our great teachers Yuliana and Blaine, many people work behind the scenes to make it a good learning environment” she added.
Better English = more achievements
Today, Firouzeh is one of English Online’s most active learners. According to her mentors, her English skills (as well as her digital skills) have had tremendous improvement in just a few months’ time. “Now I could see how far I have come when I compare my writing and my reading comprehension,” Firouzeh said.
“I want to add that the one-on-one class gave me the confidence to volunteer. After a month of studying, I felt that I had the energy and was ready to contribute something,” she added. “I accomplished a CPR course, got a certificate, and applied for a child abuse registry check. They were all in English and I did it on my own,” Firouzeh said proudly. She now does volunteer work as a teacher’s assistant which she enjoys. Recently, she added another feather to her cap when she aced her Canadian Citizenship test. “I think that it is very important to be patient and to keep going. Don’t stop practicing English,” she said.
Never stop learning
Because of her experience at EO, Firouzeh is now a staunch promoter. She finds every opportunity to share with other newcomers how EO has helped her. She tells them to go to livelearn.ca and take advantage of the many online learning resources. “For newcomers (for everybody really), it’s important to keep learning, not only for integration but also for mental health. Continuous learning (English and other topics besides) will prevent you from getting Alzheimer’s,” Firouzeh said.
Another thing Firouzeh advises new Manitobans to do is to volunteer. “Volunteering is really important. It gives you experience, you learn new skills, gain new friends, and improve your English,” she said.
With the continued improvement of her English skills, Firouzeh knows that more opportunities will open up for her. “I can’t go back to nursing yet, but I see the possibility of getting a related job in healthcare in the near future,” she said. To newcomers like her, Firouzeh has this advice: “Just work hard, be patient, keep learning and never stop.”