It’s not just teachers who are part of the English as an additional language mosaic. Consider, for example, Hossiendad Alizadeh, who in his native Afghanistan is educated as an engineer. But because those credentials aren’t recognized in Canada, he has wound up as an educational assistant at Walter Murray Collegiate.
Able to speak six languages, he has been an invaluable support for the teaching team, because he has an affinity in many ways for what these students have experienced to relocating in a heretofore unknown continent.
However, the soft-spoken but effusive Hassiendad insists this is a very good fit for him and he can help students who have come from a variety of backgrounds including refugee camps, religious conflict, as well as racism in many cases.
Plus, he is able to share his passion for mathematics. Aided by his linguistic expertise, he has created a series of charts that familiarizes students with English and math by including the names in both Arabic and Farsi.
“It is a way to help the students perhaps feel a little more comfortable with their new situation and English. This is a new world for them and they don’t know Canada, but we talk about the importance of education for their future.
“I want them to be a good person in Canada because this is their new home now, and I want them to help by being positive persons in society.”
Alizadeh explains a key link to the settling-in period is to have regular contact with the students’ families, although he would like to see it done more frequently.
He said learning English is clearly the priority, especially for those students who are refugees and have had a significant void in education in their younger years.
“When you look at some of these camps, they have a zero-education background and so it’s a difficult journey. Suggesting that he often learns from the students, he said, “this is very close to my heart to help these students and help them on the journey.”