I came to Canada with my parents on June 28th, 2014. Because of my poor vocabularies, the first biggest challenge for me was talking in English with people. My first ESL instructor was Ms. Solie, who helped me with speaking and writing English. She was in her 40’s, with a red face. She wore glasses to read and teach, but not for looking at the road in front of her.
On the first day of my high school, I walked into the ESL classroom. Ms. Solie sat on her chair and gave us new students a big smile. I did not sit too close to her, but I saw some wrinkle around her amber eyes; when she smiled, her red cheeks squeezed her glasses, it looked like two apples grew underneath her glasses. The first day of class was always the easiest, we need to remember everyone’s name in the class. Even though there were only 11 students in the class, it was quite hard for me to learn all of their names in English. So I used Chinese pronunciation to remember them. I was surprised that Ms. Solie could remember all of our names in a short amount of time. It made me wonder if pronouncing one’s name accurately is important in Canada. The next part was to sing the national anthem. Ms. Solie used her hoarse voice to teach us line by line. When she sang, her mouth opened very large and her thin lips moved up and down. I was good at singing since in grade five, so even though I had never sung the anthem, I learned the melody quickly but not the lyrics. My favourite sentence was “With glowing hearts we see thee raise, the true North strong and free”, it made me feel proud every time I sang it.
After we got to know each other better, Ms. Solie often showed us some photos of her dogs. She liked dogs very much. She even stabled the photo of her three Labrador Retriever dogs on the bulletin board. Once, it was after school, a student came up to Ms. Solie and asked her questions. Ms. Solie told the student that she couldn’t stay long because she needed to go back home and feed her dogs. For real, I had never heard that people go home early just to feed their pets. In China, we usually would ask family members or neighbours to feed the pets, if we couldn’t go back home on time. What Ms. Solie said gave me a feeling that, Canadian way of treating animal just liked treating their own kids: they would like to babysit pets on their own. During my first high school year in Canada, her outfit and behaviour renewed my impression of how Canadian teachers should “look like”.
Ms. Solie taught me that, using new language to talk to people was not that scary. In fact, it was interesting to learn a totally new language and its unique culture. Her enthusiastic of encouraging me to speak English in public stimulated me to talk more with other people. Throughout what I learned in ESL class, Ms. Solie’s way of teaching English gave my first thought of becoming a teacher.