English: Climbing the Language Ladder

by Ruslana Sikorska

Since my arrival on Canadian soil 8 years ago my life has been enriched by many wonderful people who I was able to meet and befriend because of my continuing interest in learning English.

I am grateful for the education I received through the LINC, computer, and TOEFL courses provided by the Toronto Catholic District School Board. After being assessed by the YMCA as a Level 4 student, I started attending Dundas LINC and ESL Centre which used to be inside the Honeydale Mall on Dundas Street West (moved to 90 Eglinton East recently). It took me two years to complete LINC 4 and 5, a computer course, and a TOEFL course. After that I was able to successfully pass the TOEFL test and be offered an admission to Glendon College, York University.

I graduated in June of 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics and Language Studies.

In Ukraine, I obtained a pedagogical college diploma with the exact title of Diploma of Junior Specialist with a qualification as a Teacher of Primary Grades and Foreign Language. In the process of adjusting to the new life in Canada, I realized that it is quite possible for me to continue my teaching career, although, with a slightly different focus. I decided to combine my passion for language with my desire to help newcomers to Canada by means of teaching them English. This year I completed the University of Toronto Certificate Program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. In May of the current year, I got certified through TESL Ontario and became a teacher of English in Canada just as I used to be in Ukraine. In September, I started teaching ESL at the Toronto Military Family Resource Centre.

I consider it not only an honour but also a privilege to have the opportunity to interact with people of various ethnic backgrounds as I also learn from them while I am teaching. There are many challenges lying ahead of the newcomers. They need to learn to be patient and flexible. They should be willing to set realistic goals and understand that they have infinite opportunities to do the best with what they have. It is very important for newcomers to be willing to get out of their comfort zone. There is no need to limit yourself to just your neighbourhood or your community.

Volunteering is a great way to create and then expand our network. It gives us a chance to better understand who we are and who we are capable of becoming.

Cnm