Hauwson Yu – gained the confidence to speak English at Newcomer Connections

“Learning English has fundamentally changed my life,” says newcomer Hauwson Yu. “The Y is the one who helped me do it.”

Hauwson Yu joined the LINC (Language Instructions for Newcomers in Canada) at YMCA Newcomer Connections in April 2020; aside from only two in-person classes in the late summer of 2021, Hauwson attended only virtual study in the LINC program.

Yu works as a Tourism Contact centre Specialist. When he started working in the spring of 2020, Yu got headaches out of frustration at the end of his workdays, such days full of calls over the phone entirely in English. Yu battled to understand his clients, often failing and losing them. He believes his pronunciation frequently led to communication breakdowns.

“He was remarkably hard on himself, calling himself a ‘loser’ publicly many times during his class work,” says Matthew Mott, Language Instructor at YMCA Newcomer Connections.

Yu continued the LINC classes for 20 months, insisting on working full time and coming to class, attending only half-classes when his demanding work schedule required him to do so, but never allowing his attendance to dry up to nothing. He persisted through the LINC program, even in the last two months of the program, when he had to use vacation time to allow him to attend class to finish his CLB 7 (Canadian Language Benchmarks) certificate, crossing the Intermediate level language ability.

“The valuable 20 months of English classes with you is the most crucial phase in my immigration life,” says Yu, appreciating Matthew Mott. “It’s not only the English language speeches and grammar, but also the food, the weather, the finance, the pharmacy, and the NB history knowledge that stuck with me.”

After months of classes and of playing and teaching golf (he is an avid golf enthusiast), Yu said that his English-caused headaches stopped happening—they are not a problem anymore. He has built tremendous mental resilience in his new language. Yu has also become a proponent of positive psychology, saying that he has learned that being kind to himself is essential to being happy in his work and his learning. He practices positive self-talk daily now, extending to himself patience and kindness and enthusiastically speaking on the benefits of self-kindness. He does not call himself a “loser” anymore.

“The reason I keep living in Saint John is that I can focus on English learning and golfing,” says Yu. “Comparing from when I arrived at Saint John, I really appreciate what the Y taught and that it inspired me.”

Yu’s pronunciation progress is marvellous; his pronunciation not only no longer impedes communication, it seldom ever has a clarity problem. He is the envy of his peers as they approach him to praise him; Yu is quite proud of these moments when his peers remark in this way. He no longer has problems understanding what people are saying over the phone and is pleased to say that he has moved on to clearly understanding “what they mean by what they say.” Yu is further proud to utilize this understanding of what his clients mean to grow the business, trying to meet everyone’s needs.

In the Zoom classes, he went from saying almost nothing for multiple whole classes at a stretch, saying for months on end that “he just wants to listen,” to being a leader among the students, often laughing and telling jokes, holding the floor easily and often for 15-20 minutes at a time, telling lengthy, detailed, specific, and emotionally charged stories. Yu went from being serious-faced all the time in class to laughing frequently, with a big smile reaching all the way up to his eyes. He feels empowered because now he is empowered, and he knows it.

“I like to help people in return of I got here. I will be happy if my story can encourage more newcomers to come and improve their English.”