Lana Shishani

Speaking your mind: The power of communication and learning a new language

Lana was inspired to become an ESL teacher after noticing the barriers to communication faced by newcomer parents to Canada at her kids’ school. Even for those with a formal education in their home country, something as basic as filling out a form may be a barrier to those who don’t know the language. Inspired to make a difference, Lana went looking for an ESL teaching opportunity and stumbled across CCI-LEX via a volunteering website.

Despite a lack of teaching background, Lana receives a lot of support at CCI-LEX. From ready-made lesson plans to teaching tips from other teachers as well as a variety of workshops hosted regularly at the school, Lana has gained a new confidence and very much looks forward to her time in the classroom. Initially teaching both the LEX Low Beginner and Low Intermediate classes, Lana has chosen to focus on the former. At the beginner level she gets to witness just how much students advance throughout a semester.

Near the beginning of a term, Lana notices how easily students can get frustrated when they’re unable to communicate or understand something. She reassures them that learning a new language takes time and practice, and that they will get there eventually. Sure enough, by the time midterms role around, most students are noticeably more confident and comfortable. Lana particularly enjoys seeing shy or quiet students open up and engage more as they advance in their English learning journey.

Of course, none of this would be possible without the support and guidance of a good teacher. After several years with CCI-LEX, Lana has gained “more empathy and patience – a lot of patience!”. She now takes the time to listen instead of jumping in, waiting for her students to find their words and communicate their thoughts. In her own words: “It’s the communication part that’s frustrating for students – the ability to speak your mind and say what you want in English.” Empowering students to do this lies at the heart of CCI-LEX’s mission.