Monday, 12 March 2012

My First Day in Canada

Things that I should have done before to come to Canada

1.       Know a little bit about weather, snow looks better in movies.
2.       Bring proper clothing, jezz, my hands were in pain without gloves. It’s freezing!
3.       French? How come we decided to come to Montreal? I should have research a little bit better. We were not fluent in English so French, forget it, we got to move to Ontario.
We have been living in Canada for about four years. I can tell what cultural barriers are but I also can tell that this wall is not impossible to overcome.

Helping up to tear down the wall !!!!!!

Helping up to tear down the wall !!!!!!
By Omar Rojas
Many multicultural associations financially helped by Immigration Canada work are responsible for welcoming the new comers in Canada. Those associations offer a good portfolio of services that help new immigrates to integrate our society.  Their role is basically to help new migrants and refugees to access and understand the range of Government services that are available to them. Many families come to Canada looking for a better opportunity, but some others have fled their countries because of fear of persecution in their own country. It is hard in both cases and that is why multicultural associations hire social workers with different back grows in order to help more effectible those families. Many of those families come unknowing a word in English and the first step to help them out is enrolling them in English courses such as LINC and ESL programs. Some of these people have excellent professional experience and education but the lack of language is the first barrier to overcome. Now, there is a federal financial funding that help families not only to go back to school, but also through welfare they got an amount of money that covers at least rent, transportation, and some food while they are learning English. But all that information and some more is available through Internet and the mentioned associations that make a little easier this hardship in some cases.   
Useful links for new immigrants

7 secrets to learning a language fast

7 secrets to learning a language fast
Always wanted to learn a language but think you are too old, not talented enough, or just too busy? Think again! 
By  Benny Lewis

1. Studying grammar is for academics – communicating is king
 If you plan to use your language with human beings and not just for exams, then put aside the books and perfectionism. Grammar does NOT help you to speak a language – it helps you to improve your language skills. You MUST make mistakes and lots of them. Embrace this and you will learn quicker and get your point across more efficiently. When you are ready for it, and very comfortable using the language then it's a good idea to come back to such materials to tidy it up.

2. Speak the language from day one
No more waiting! People are always over-preparing until that day when maybe they'll be ready. This logic is faulty as there is always something missing, so you'll never, ever feel 100% prepared. The only solution to this vicious circle is to get out of it entirely. Speak right now – even if you have only learned a one or two words and phrases! It will be hard to begin with, but you will progress much quicker!

3. Start with a phrasebook, learn it quickly and use it
The one book I do find terribly useful when I want to speak a language as soon as possible is a cheap, pocket, travel phrasebook. Lonely Planet, Berlitz or any similar book will do the job. Read the phrases and learn them off by heart. If you sing along with phrases it becomes a lot easier to apply them to memory. Then use them immediately.

4. For vocabulary get repetition flashcards
There is a free program you can download to your computer called Anki. It allows you to download pre-made decks with the most common/important words of your target language. You can study on your computer or use a portable version of the app on your smartphone.

5. Meet up with people before you travel
While meeting people to practise in your target language country is relatively easy, did you know that you can do it before you travel too? Hit the ground running by already having had lots of practice in advance! Some great ways to do this include:

•  Searching to see if there is a weekly or monthly gathering of those practising your target language
•    Use the site and instead of searching for a couch, simply search your home city with just the criteria of the language you want. Message that person to meet up for a coffee. People on this site are very open-minded to meeting strangers.
•    Ask your friends, local library, church, clubs or anywhere else you can think of to find a local community or speaker of that language. Then just take the leap and say ‘hi!’ to them.

6. Don't think so much – just do it!
One of the major issues so many people have when starting to learn a language is confidence. They dwell on the many ways things that can go wrong, and remind themselves how stupid they are. Clear your head and just open your mouth. You are exaggerating how badly things will go – just let the language flow, and use whatever techniques you are comfortable with for relaxing and feeling more confident. Remember – mistakes don’t matter; most locals love it when foreigners make the effort to communicate in their own language (rather than just barking English at them!).

7. Have fun and enjoy talking!
You are communicating with another human being in an entirely different language! That's what it is for after all. You can't go wrong with this – it's not like in school where a certain number of errors earns you a fail.

You are simply explaining your thoughts, asking questions and enjoying this wonderful new way to communicate. Mistakes and nervousness, and excuses that it's hard can't get around the fact that by simply saying the words, you ARE communicating in that language.

There will be many challenges, but you can find a way around them.

Good luck, and enjoy speaking!

New Comers, how should we talk to our children?

New Comers, how should we talk to our children?
By Omar Rojas
Many people might think that the best way to communicate to our kids is using our mother tongue. Some others would say, the best way to learn the new language is using it everywhere including our homes. Now, who is going to have the best benefit in both cases?
In our first scenario, the more beneficiaries are going to be our kids. They are going to learn two different languages instead of just one. However, in my experience I would say that children who speak in different languages at home develop both languages a little longer than using just one. For instance, my son, although he has a good enough English for his age, he has more troubles reading and writing than his peers, perhaps because at home we decided to teach him a better Spanish, and that includes reading and writing. Sometimes he got confuse but I am pretty sure that his brain ate the age of four is capable to learn two or three languages at the same time.
Now, the beneficiaries in the second scenario are parents. Through the practice with our kids and spouses is easier to learn the second language. Practice, practice, and more practice. This is the best way to improve the new language in a short period of time.


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Cultural Barriers to Effective Communication

Cultural Barriers to Effective Communication
By Eric Benac, eHow contibutor
Communication is the most important way to stay ahead in the world. However, communication can be difficult sometimes. There are many reasons for this, one of which is cultural differences. Stella Ting-Toomey, a communication specialist, has identified three cultural barriers that impede effective communication. Knowing these barriers can help you avoid them.

Cognitive Constraints

One of the most common barriers to communication is cognitive constraint. Cognitive constraints are the way people view the world based on their culture. For example, people in the United States might be inclined to feel superior to many cultures because of the power and prevalence of U.S. culture since World War II. This might lead people to become angry if somebody questions this superiority. However, cognitive constraints can also be based on religion, the area in which you live, the school you went to, or even the books you have read. Basically, cognitive constraints are created by the way people's minds give meaning to the world around them based on the knowledge and perceptions they have obtained. These differ from culture to culture.

Behavior Constraints

Behavioral constraints are another barrier to effective communication. Behavior constraints are the ways people behave from different cultures. This can be as simple as eye contact or how close you should be to somebody. In the United States, eye contact should be sporadic and people should stand at least three feet apart. In Europe, eye contact is considered "close to staring," and closeness can be defined by inches. It can also be as complex as how much information one gives another while talking. In the United States, politeness and restraint is practiced, while in Arab cultures, people often say what they mean. Every culture regulates its behavior differently.

Emotional Constraints

The final cultural barrier that blocks effective communication is emotional constraints. Each culture has rules that tell us how emotional we can be in a situation. Italians are generally open about their emotions, with hugs and kisses alternating between angry shouting and gesturing. British people, however, are more reserved and keep their emotions close at hand. This can cause problems when these approaches meet. The British may think Italians are rude in their emotional wildness, while the Italians may see the British as uptight. This varies in approach between each culture.

Hand Signs Confussions....... Kind of funny

Hand gestures have different meanings in different countries. Be careful, you could have some gestures that might be offensive to other cultures

Manners And Body Language Across Cultures

Norine Dresser (Writer) gives expert video advice on: How do I know how to greet someone of another culture?; How do signs of affection differ among cultures?; Which American gestures might be interpreted as obscene by other cultures? and more...