Using Whatsapp in our English Conversation Circle

According to a study published by the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council, Canada’s tourism sector is facing a potentially severe shortage of labor over the next 15-20 years. By 2030, labour shortages are expected to amount to over 25,000 full-time jobs. Newcomers to Canada are seen as a key source of talent as tourism organizations seek to meet their hiring needs.

We are launching The Hospitality Training Program in September 2017 in partnership with Hospitality Workers Training Centre. It is meant to help Syrian newcomers build their language, occupational skills and knowledge in the areas of food preparation, food safety and sanitation, guest services and customer relations, as well as banquet and restaurant services. They will be able to gain a strong foundation in communication and job search techniques as well.

I met with potential Syrian participants who are in need of employment and eager to join the workforce. However, the required English language level to be able to join the Hospitality program is CLB 4 and up. The English language level of the majority of interested Syrian newcomers ranges between CLB 2 up to CLB 4. So, to overcome this obstacle and to facilitate the possibility for Syrians to join the Hospitality program, I decided to use Whatsapp to teach them English. Now, we meet online every morning for an hour where I explain the lesson in Arabic and English. I then create related worksheets and send them to the group via the group email. In the next class, I check the homework with the participants and answers all their inquiries. During the class, participants practice the four skills. They record their answers on Whatsapp while the rest listen to the answers and comment, either by recording back or in writing.

At the beginning of this project, some participants were hesitant, embarrassed and worried about making mistakes. When they felt the benefit of the class and saw how others were active and enthusiastic, they changed and started participating. Even the families are becoming more involved, sitting beside their mothers and helping them to communicate even more effectively with the group. And, the word is spreading. I only had six participants when I started the class two weeks ago and now that group has increased to 19. All are looking forward to working hard to improve their English language level and get ready for employment.

Written by Hanaa Al Sadi