A Fact to Think Over in an ESL-ized Way

He was about to cry when he shared this with me, but he later collected his feelings and gradually grew confident of his ability to speak English and go back to work, as he realized during our conversation that it was not HIS use or knowledge of English language proficiency! During a recent visit to Mayfair Shopping Centre in Victoria, a new immigrant felt comfortable enough to share with me this: He said that he couldn’t speak English well, as a result of which, he couldn’t understand what one of his customers repeatedly told him the other day at work. His inability to speak ‘good English’, as this new Canadian said, made this particular customer very upset at that moment, as the customer had to utter the same thing three times. Helping the new Canadian collect and calm down, I encouraged him to continue speaking English, as he has been doing, and attempted to discourage him from feeling bad at all about the incident. And, in fact, as we continued to discuss this incident, I was able to help him realize that it wasn’t his level of English language proficiency, which was thoroughly responsible for his inability to get what the customer was saying – in fact, it was the customer who was unable to help the new Canadian understand what he really wanted to say. (There is instantly almost always a feeling of joy when one is able to help the interlocutor understand what one means to say or share!) It was the customer who didn’t realize how he should be using the language so that the new Canadian would understand and provide him with the support he was seeking to receive then. It was very much appreciated that the particular customer repeated his statements, but he seemed to have failed to communicate to some extent, (so he missed that joy!) and it isn’t the new Canadian who failed to use English or understand or respond to the customer. The customer could use different words or sentence structures and thus could rephrase his statements to convey his message, instead of reiterating the same thing. During the discussion, after I shared with him possible interpretations and what really should have happened and who should have felt sorry, the new Canadian felt comfortable enough to go back and continue his work the following day! He was happy, and so was I!

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About Raj Khatri

I have always enjoyed facilitating both adult and K-12 English as a Second or Foreign Language (ESL or EFL) classes that include international, immigrant and refugee students and mentoring ESL/EFL pre-service teachers for over fifteen years in a variety of settings across North America and South Asia. The opportunity to work as a TESL Practicum Supervisor at the Department of Linguistics of the University of Victoria has further helped me share with and learn from colleagues in the field. I had served as an ESL Instructor III at the University of Regina for two years and a half before joining Camosun College as an ELD Instructor in the fall of 2014. I always appreciate the opportunity I was provided with to facilitate ESL/EFL, EAP, LBS and LINC classes in various capacities, including Professor at Centennial College, Instructor at the Toronto Catholic District School Board, Seneca College, and Centennial College in Toronto, and Lecturer at Padma Kanya Multiple Campus (Tribhuvan University affiliated) in Kathmandu. Awarded the University of Victoria Fellowship (2014) and the Geoffrey & Alix O'Grady Scholarship in Linguistics (2015/016) for Academic Excellence, I am currently working with Dr. Huang on my doctoral studies in linguistics, with a major focus of research in applied linguistics, while still continuing to facilitate ESL classes and supervising TESL practicum students. Before I completed my Special Education program with Honors at Queen’s University in Ontario and got certified to teach in the K-12 public education system as an Ontario College teacher (OCT), as well as to teach adult ESL classes as a TESL Ontario accredited instructor in 2009, I had worked with Dr. Haulman and earned my second Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language at the University of Central Oklahoma, where I had received the President’s Honor Roll for four consecutive semesters and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I was deeply honored when Brad Henry, then Governor of the State of Oklahoma in the United States, recognized my public input about college safety and public education in 2007 and 2008. Holding the belief that it is important to give back to the community, I have always been engaged in voluntary activities, both in professional and other community-related areas, and enjoying working with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. My voluntary services extend from donating books to school libraries and financially supporting schools in Nepal to facilitating ESL classrooms at various settings, including at Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board, and Regina Public Schools and supporting voluntary organizations, such as the Regina Food Bank, the Salvation Army (Regina) and the Regina Green Patch in Canada. I have been an accredited member of TESL Canada (Professional Standard III Permanent, since 2009), and Ontario College of Teachers (OCT; since 2010), and I hold Saskatchewan Professional 'A' Certificate. As a member, I have been with TESOL since 2007, and I am also a member of AAAL (American Association for Applied Linguistics), IATEFL, and BC TEAL. My areas of research interests are second language reading strategies, second language writing, intercultural communication and classroom practices, and adult ELLs with disabilities. Thank you for visiting! Happy Exploring!
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