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Without language skills, we won’t achieve much: Amanda’s Story

by Miles Hamzi

When Amanda moved to Canada as a permanent resident eight years ago, she could barely speak a word of English. Having lived her entire life in Fuzhou, an old port city in China’s southeastern province of Fujian – famous for its tea plantations and exports – she clearly didn’t need to.

Her son was two years old when she settled in Toronto and she found herself consumed with motherhood, especially given her husband’s rigorous work schedule. By the second year, she started taking English language classes; but when she had her second child a year later, she had to quit.

I was happy to know that MNLCT’s LINC classes provided free childminding so I didn’t need to look for a daycare centre.

For some time, she was employed at a Chinese travel agency in Markham alongside predominantly Mandarin-speaking employees but was laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Living and working in a Chinese community, we speak Mandarin all the time. Communicating in English is my biggest challenge and I know without proper language skills I won’t achieve much,” says Amanda.

“I hardly spoke to anyone who couldn’t speak Chinese. I had to ask my husband to do things on my behalf that required speaking English. I would even ask him how to pay the cashier when I went shopping. I didn’t feel confident at all,” explains the 37-year-old.

In 2017, a friend introduced her to MNLCT which helped her with settlement needs and government applications. “I was happy to know that their LINC classes provided free childminding so I didn’t need to look for a daycare centre.”

Since then, Amanda has progressed to Level 6 and she is confident she can take on a job in an English-speaking environment. She hopes one day she will launch her own business – a boutique jewelry store. Despite the challenges, Amanda and her family have come a long way. “My fear was my kids would end up not speaking English too. I now enjoy reading books to them – in English! I feel fortunate that we own our own house and car, and my husband runs his own renovation company.”

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