Addisu Bayisa: Still Learning

An ISANS Impact Story

Addisu Bayisa is an excellent example that you are never too old to be a student. At 29 years old, he is currently a student here at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), learning English as an additional language. 

Addisu is originally from Ethiopia, but was processed as a refugee in Kenya. His first language is Oromo, spoken by 10s of millions of people. He was exposed to some English growing up, but mainly in the form of reading and writing; so, while ISANS is helping him with English in all aspects, he tells us we have especially helped his speaking and listening.

He is currently enrolled in a Youth Canadian Language Benchmarks 3-4 class. The Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) describe 12 levels of ability in each of four different language skills – Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.

When speaking of ISANS instructor, Gordon Mackay, Addisu says “he is a good teacher. . . He knows how to teach because we are not all the same.” 

ISANS language classes help with all aspects of the English language – such as English for work, home, the community, and business – as well as at all levels of ability. Addisu says he has learned to write an email, order at restaurants, and talk to medical professionals. 

He also mentioned that he’s learning little nuances when it comes to English. For example, when talking to a young child, you would usually tell them they’re going to have meat for dinner, not pork – because while you (an adult) might know the difference, a child might not. 

Addisu says ISANS has also helped him speak more politely and beautifully, whereas before his English knowledge meant he often spoke more roughly. 

When he is not in class at ISANS, Addisu is often working. As an Uber driver, he gets lots of practice speaking English when conversing with his passengers. “Going to the airport is 20-30 minutes, so we talk.” He says he learns about a wide variety of things and new words.

Addisu came to Nova Scotia in 2019, and he says he’s happy here and that the people here in Nova Scotia have been kind. Improving his English has allowed him to connect more with his community. 

In his spare time, he likes to walk around, and says that driving to different places as an Uber driver makes him happy. “Canada is so beautiful with nature. I love nature.”

He thanks ISANS and our staff for all they have done for him, and says the organization is really helpful for newcomers. 

We are very proud of all our language learners. We believe in order for newcomers to form a meaningful connection to their new country, friends, workplaces, and communities they have to be able to express themselves freely and accurately.

Our language services offer support for all levels of ability and include many specialized areas – from literacy to English for everyday living, work, and business.

When speaking of ISANS instructor, Gordon Mackay, Addisu says “he is a good teacher. . . He knows how to teach because we are not all the same.” 

Addisu Bayisa: Still Learning