One of the most overlooked challenges that we have noticed in our work with New Canadians at The Working Centre is that the same level of English needed for a survivor job doesn't meet the demands for career paths that require highly fluent, sensitive communications in both speaking and writing.
Similarly, a person may have highly developed communication skills for the formal work environment but lack the skill to communicate in a more informal, networking situation. A person who writes excellent English language engineering reports is not necessarily well versed in the customs and intricacies of email writing.
Communication varies depending on the context and communication skills need to be considered, practiced and honed in different situations to ensure you meet the employer’s needs. While it’s important to continue learning in English classes it’s also important to vary your exposure to English to ensure your communications skills grow in different contexts. Writing emails with your employment counsellor, volunteering, attending networking events, joining Toastmasters and joining English conversation circles are a few ways to do this. Discuss your communication goals with your employment counsellor to make a plan to communicate effectively in all situations.
"The next, incredibly important step in my language learning was the courage to start volunteering, even when my language was still somewhat shaky. I wanted to volunteer in a role that matched my education, my background in economics. This was important to me, for how I was feeling about myself. I found a unique group called Sustainable Pittsburgh – they had a small staff, and they were willing to work with volunteers who could help produce strong environmental indicators. In my work with this group, I was challenged to use high level English each day, and to write in English in very professional ways. The beautiful thing I learned here was all about me in relation to other people in professional organizations."
- Employment Counsellor, Waterloo