Written by Alexandra Mantsurova
A learner from English Conversation Group at Halifax Central
A new grandson, a new English family
I came to Canada to help my daughter take care of her newborn son, my grandson. Before arriving, I was worried about my English and communicating with my daughter's family. Although I studied English in Russia, I did not practice speaking enough. So, when my daughter suggested I go to Halifax Central's English Conversation Group, I was really happy to join it.
Lessons took place online and were scheduled at a very convenient time. For me these two were really important, because I needed to be at home most of the time to take care of the baby. I took classes twice a week, on Tuesdays with Monica and Jennifer and on Thursdays with Ruth and Carl. I remember my first class very well. I was a little bit nervous, but my teachers Ruth and Carl were so friendly that I gradually became more relaxed.
New friends just chatting every week
Our teachers made the learning environment very welcoming. Students came from different countries. We all were of diverse cultures, traditions. But our tutors managed to connect and unite all of us. I soon felt that both teachers and all of my classmates were my friends and that we were just have a friends chat every week. I could talk about everything I was interested in and all that worried me. We discussed a variety of topics: cooking, travelling, children, education, weather, public transport, politics, shopping, and so on.
Family games in English at home
Our lessons helped me in my everyday life. We often solved riddles with Monica and Jennifer. After class, I would ask my older grandson to solve those riddles. He liked it very much. So I got to have fun with him, while practicing my English. Also, Ruth, Carl, Jennifer, and Monica would tell us about life in Canada. They would share their own experience and provide us with useful advice. Our teachers were really supportive and patient.
No longer afraid of making mistakes
The most positive impact that my volunteer teachers have had on me is that they made me feel relaxed and comfortable while practicing my conversation skills. I stopped being afraid of making mistakes and just started speaking English. The whole experience was very enjoyable and they are great teachers, facilitators, and hosts.
Alexandra Mantsurova's story is one in a series of tributes to Library volunteers made for Volunteer Appreciation Week 2022, called When You Shine. Each story is shared as an expression of the Library's appreciation for the many volunteers making our communities better every day.