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Meet the Teachers

An Active Canadian Teacher: Helen
by Ritsuko


Oftentimes, Helen recommends her students not use an electronic bilingual dictionary in class. In her essay, “Throw Away that Translator!” she describes how to improve English based on her own progress in Portuguese. Should we really stop using our translator? “If you can’t guess the meaning of a word, the translator could help,” she accepted the situation and advised, “but translating is not a way to learn language. Read, read and read—find something you enjoy reading instead.”

Learning Portuguese and volunteering in Brazil

Helen visited Brazil for the first time at 19. During her 6-month stay, she was attracted to the country. “It’s amazing! The people are so friendly,” she said. “In order to know them and to stay, I had to speak Portuguese.”

She volunteered, teaching English to the local people. “Only the rich can learn English.” The school in the poor district didn’t have even a piece of chalk, so she called her family in Canada to send her materials such as, pencils papers and English books for beginners. Every time she visits, she prepares clothes, toys and stationery to donate to the children. The benefits, she said, are “Inner satisfaction and a passion for results. I have more attachment to the poor kids.”

Her business career

After graduating from university, she worked for a government organization. Two years later, she changed her job to her own business, wholesale import jewellery from South Africa with her business partner for ten years. “Flexible time and schedule is the advantage,” she said, “but I’ve learned I’ll never have another business partner.”

Becoming a teacher—“This is what I want to do!”

The volunteering in Brazil had led her to become a teacher in Canada. After completing the program at university, she worked as a Teacher on Call, a substitute teacher, for a year and half. “ I went everywhere and taught every single subject,” she said, “even Grade 1 and Japanese class.” Then she worked for the Adult Learning Centre at Columbia Square for two years; finally, she came to teach at the PALC in 2005, covering all subjects, including Accounting 11 and 12. “It’s a wonderful place! I’m learning from students—they’re eager to learn,” she said.

The editor of Pearson Patter

Last year, Helen voluntarily acted as the editor of the newsletter, Pearson Patter and helped showcase the students’ work. “Reading and compiling the wide range of topics is very interesting. I’ll be the editor for a second time,” she said.

About Helen

Born in Edmonton, Alberta. Graduated Simon Fraser University. She holds the Bachelor of Business Administration and Masters of Economics. At university, she served as the president of the tennis club. Afterwards, she obtained the Bachelor of Education at the University of British Columbia.

Languages: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Movie: The Way We Were
Book: The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
Food: Chocolate and Coffee (“Brazil’s” is the best!)
Hobby: Playing tennis, golf
Pastime: Travelling