Failure – The First Step to Success

Maged Mohammed is a Grade 12 student who attends Central Technical School (CTS). He was born in Saudi Arabia of Yemeni background and came to Canada in June 2014. When he arrived in Canada he could not speak a word of English. He said it was really tough for him as he was placed in Grade 10 and started learning English as a Second Language (ESL) at Level A, the lowest level for ESL students. After two years of persistent studies and working hard to improve his English, Maged was encouraged by one of his teachers to enter the Toronto District school board ESL speech competition. The competition runs at three levels, the local school, the board quadrants and the final competition is Toronto-wide. Maged won the local school competition at CTS. He then competed against ESL E students in the west quadrant and again was awarded first place. Maged said he became quite nervous at the final round and did not win. However, teachers, classmates and settlement workers are very proud of his efforts because he had the courage to speak before an audience of educators and learners.

Maged’s teachers have seen his dedication to learning. His participation in school activities and programs such as the NOW Club have been instrumental in helping him improve his English and developing his confidence. Through the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) Program, Maged was selected as a peer leader in 2015 and he continues to mentor other peer leaders and newcomer students.

Maged stated that the speech competition helped him to understand both his limits and his potential. He discovered that even though he worked hard to improve his skills, he still has a lot of work to do. However, he is proud of his achievement and it gives him the courage to join other competitions and engage in other leadership roles. His advice for other newcomer students who are struggling with their English is, although it might not be easy, they must keep on practicing.

Maged did not win the Toronto wide competition but he sums up his participation in this way, ‘You might fail, crumble or might get devastated, but you get to know that failure is the first step to success; if you have never failed and tried again, you would never know your potential.’

Congratulations Maged on your achievement.

Constance Kendall, SWIS Program