Newcomer Story: Landiarisoa Razafindranaivo

Landiarisoa RazafindranaivoHooray for our August Language Contest Grand Winner, Landiarisoa Razafindranaivo! Landy has won several times in the past weeks, winning almost all of English Online’s (EO) collectibles. It’s a good thing that her daughter loves the items too. Landy shares that some of her prizes have disappeared from her desk and have mysteriously found their way into her daughter’s school bag!

Lady from the Big Red Island

After noticing that I was having trouble pronouncing her name, she said, “you can call me Landy because my name is very long.” I learned that “Landiarisoa” means good silk because in Malagasy, the native language of Madagascar, “landy” means silk, and “soa” means good. Quite the perfect name for the lady who just smoothly glided through our quizzes and won so many of them.

Landy and her family arrived in Manitoba in June, 2018. They purposely chose to go to rural Manitoba and promptly fell in love with Steinbach during their exploratory visit there. “We don’t like living in a big city. Manitoba is friendly especially if you live in a small town. They’re really friendly here in Steinbach,” Landy said.

Just like other newcomers, she and her family had to adjust to three things: the language, climate, and employment. However, Landy accepts that these challenges are part of being a newcomer. “You have to understand that it’s a new country, so there will be challenges. You have to be prepared,” she said. In the three years she has lived in Manitoba, she has managed to overcome these challenges with a mixture of hard work and the support of newcomer organizations.

Facing challenges head on

“In Madagascar, there are only two seasons: dry and cold. But the coldest is only around 10 degrees Celsius, not minus,” she said. “My kids love the snow, but for me it’s very hard. Driving is snow is not very comfortable,” she added.

It’s a good thing that they connected with Eastman Immigrant Services when they arrived. “Eastman referred us to an organization that gives some winter clothes and furniture to newcomers. As newcomers we didn’t have jobs yet so we didn’t have much money. So aside from the clothes from the organization, we also bought some from a thrift shop,” Landy said.

She also went to an organization called Opening Doors to Success which, aside from providing employment skills and enhancement trainings, also offered driving lessons as an incentive. “If you attend 85% of the workshops, you can have 18 hours of driving lessons,” she said. These proved useful as she passed the driving test on her first try.

Eastman also referred Landy to Red River College (RRC) for English language lessons. While she already knows French (the official language for education and business in Madagascar is French), she also wants to be proficient in English. Landy shared that manual dexterity is a problem for her, so an office job would be ideal. For this to happen, she needs to be able to communicate in English.

English training for self-motivated learners

Aside from receiving lessons at RRC, Landy was also volunteering at a thrift shop. Then, after a few months, she got a job as a French language mentor. “My job is similar to a teacher but I’m not a teacher. I give some activities to the students to make them speak French. The activities are games, songs, and crossword puzzles but not lesson and homework. I work with little groups of up to 10 students and give some activities or games,” she said.

As Landy’s schedule got busier, she found it harder to travel to RRC for her classes. That’s when the wonderful staff at Accueil Francophone told her about LINC Home Study at EO. LINC HS allowed Landy to learn English online with a TESL-accredited instructor.

“I like it because I don’t have to spend a lot of time (no need to drive). My teacher, Tanveen is so nice and she is also flexible. I like that there is more speaking during the meeting and she gives me homework,” Landy said. Tanveen also encouraged me to join the Language Contest,” she added. Aside from joining the contest to apply what she learned during the week, Landy was also able to attend Coffee Chats and other online drop-in classes with EO during the summer break.

“I recommend learning with English Online to newcomers but not to a lazy person,” Landy said. “You have to be motivated to learn English online because the time is not enough that you are in contact with your teacher. So you have to do your homework, read some text, do some research. You have to be on time too. I recommend it if someone is ready to do it. Because without motivation, you will not succeed. You have to push yourself,” she added.

Landy is really motivated to work hard on her English also because she wants to go back to bookkeeping. Back in Madagascar, her job was considered to be on the same level as an accountant. So right now, she is taking it step-by-step by starting with H&R Block’s Tax Academy Courses so that she could train to be a tax preparer.

Loving life in MB

“Whenever someone asks me if they should move to Canada, I always say come to Manitoba, especially for French speakers. You and your kids can become bilingual, and you have a better opportunity of getting a good job when you’re bilingual. Also, living here is not as expensive compared to other provinces,” Landy said.

She continues, “in Manitoba, you have the opportunity to have Rent Assist too. If your salary is not very high, the government helps you. There is the health card, child benefit, you can learn English . . . what more can you ask for?”

However, she also balances this advice with words of caution: “If you want to immigrate, it is a dream but you can realize your dream. You have to prepare because Canada is another country. It is not the same as your home country. You have to prepare because it is a new life. You have to cope with a lot of things and if you’re a non-English speaker, the language too. You have to learn English and you must be motivated,” she said.