We were trying a Chinese girl from GREC, as GREC was running a coffee shop and library in Aberdeen. So he was going there just to make some effort to speak, somehow to learn this English, because people can’t speak for him all the time. We wanted him to be independent because he was doing so well with his artificial arm. At that time he was not working but we wanted him to start using his arm, because if he wanted to get the job with the council he needed to wear the arm, and to speak a bit more. But it was so difficult because I was doing everything for him! (laughs) So the Chinese girl was very strict, said: “No, you’re going and speaking!” So he was trying his best, he learned, but still it was a lot of helping hands around so he still ... OK, he is better than it was before but still doesn’t speak English too well. OK, obviously as a lot of Lithuanians, they can maybe understand a lot more because, being some years in a country, they can understand more and they can say ... And one thing of with this ex-Soviet ... how to say ... ‘mentality’ maybe! But we were afraid to say something if we don’t know properly. We were afraid. So in this case we were not speaking, we were like fish. We can maybe understand but we are afraid to speak. And I was telling them: “Speak, it doesn’t matter how. You have plenty of mistakes but speak, in this case you will start speaking!” I remember myself when I was doing English from the first class, and when I left school ... Oh, it was a long time ago when I start working here. I was knowing quite well English, it was difficult for me to start speaking. So I can understand them without knowing a lot of words to start speaking. So I can understand what was going on in their heads.

  • Ilona Low
Tuesday 2nd December 2008