Tuesday September 30, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

  • What type of housing development would you like to see replace the East View Lodge building?
  • Assisted living
  • 52%
  • Personal care home
  • 6%
  • Low-income housing/apartments
  • 42%
  • Other
  • 0%
  • Total Votes: 31





IMPORTANCE OF ENGLISH FOR NEWCOMERS

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Neepawa Press

English Teacher Shirley Dyck and Settlement Services Coordinator Cheryl Campbell, keep busy helping the newcomers settle into Neepawa and area.

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Over the past five years, Neepawa has benefited from an influx of immigrants into our community.  As a community, we see the newcomers shopping, buying goods & products within our community, buying homes, sending their children to school and starting their own businesses.  We see them participating in community events.  They have enriched our community in many ways.  But the process of adapting to a new culture is not as easy as it might appear at first glance.

When a person decides to relocate to another country there are numerous challenges that person will face during the process.  The newcomers who travel to Canada to live, work and raise their families face such challenges.  They are ‘strangers in a strange land’.  Their goal is to learn to integrate into their new country.  This means coming to understand the new culture while at the same time not losing what is important to them from their home culture.

Newcomers have to find work and a place to live.  They have to settle their families into life in a new culture and this is no small feat.  They have to adapt to a lifestyle and climate that may be very different from that which they are used to.  They may have had an image of what life in the new culture will be like but often the reality can be very different. 

No matter what challenges a newcomer experiences moving to a new country and culture, the most important factor for successful integration is being an effective communicator.  Communication refers to how we share ideas, opinion, information and thoughts between each other. 

Many folk think that the only difference in communication from one country to the next is basically the difference in languages.  Just learn the new language and one will be fine.  This is not so.  Every culture has its own style of communication.  Some have a direct, aggressive style, others an indirect – beat about the bush- style.  Others display much emotion when communicating, yet others’ show little or no emotion when communicating.     As one can imagine, when two or more different styles of communication come into contact, there can often be misunderstanding in the messages being shared.  This can cause problems for newcomers especially in the workplace.

In Canada we have our own distinctive communication style.   We tend to ‘soften’ our speech, often leading up to the point we want to make, instead of being direct or avoiding it all together.  So a newcomer moving to Canada not only has to become capable in English or French but also has to adapt to a new way of communicating.  This is not an easy task.  How we communicate affects even things like humour; what we think is funny in our culture may be a complete mystery to a newcomer and vice versa.  Our ‘unwritten’ rules governing public behaviour can also be challenging for newcomers.  Newcomers have to learn the Canadian set of publically acceptable behaviours. 

The most noticeable part of communication is language, both verbal and non-verbal.  In this part of Canada, that means being able to speak English.

The ability to effectively communicate has a major impact on helping newcomers obtain work, keep work and be promoted at work.  Mastery over English is the key component for a newcomer’s successful overall integration into work and life in Canada.  Newcomers who struggle to find their place in Canada usually are ones who have not continued to work on their English skills.  One of the biggest mistakes newcomers can make is to stop developing their English once they become employed.

Language has verbal and non-verbal parts and having mastery over English, for example, requires ability in both.  Hand gestures and other body language that we use every day without thinking can be difficult for newcomers to recognize and understand; a simple thing like shaking hands when meeting someone, eye contact, touching someone when speaking to them are all culturally referenced.  Newcomers have to learn what these things mean in Canada.  With such a lot to learn, the question we must ask is how can we, as a community, help our newcomers?

It’s simple really.  Manitoba has a long established reputation as being ‘friendly’.  It is gratifying that this is also the feedback we consistently get from newcomers.  So be a friendly Manitoban.  When you meet a newcomer in any situation, don’t hesitate to speak to them in English.  Encourage them to speak English not matter what their skill level.  Be open to answering questions and explain to them why we as Canadians do things a certain way.  If you are working with a newcomer then speak English all the time at work.  As a community we can all work together to make a newcomer’s transition to Canada a welcoming and positive experience.  If you are interested in more information or diversity training for your business, please contact us at 204-476-2055 or drop by the office at the 2nd floor, 342 Mountain Ave.  NAISS will once again be offering EAL classes to Permanent Residents in September.


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