From Refugee to Active Citizen

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Steve speaks with Farouk Verjee.  Farouk tells of his background as a refugee from Uganda, the law practice he established in Canada, and the situation faced by new Canadians today. A very interesting story of a successful Canadian.

This morning I am meeting with a friend of mine, Farouk Verjee, who is a very strong Canadian and believer in Canada and who came to this country, how many years ago?

When was it that you first came to Canada?

I came in `73 from Uganda.

And I guess there was a political situation in Uganda at the time that encouraged you to leave?

Well, Idi Amin sent the whole Asian community packing and those of us who were citizens of Uganda became stateless and Canada was one of the countries that extended its generosity by welcoming us.

Were you then, at that time, in fact a refugee or what was your status at that time?

Yes, I was a stateless person and I came out of the refugee program.

I see, you were a citizen of Uganda, (I was a citizen of Uganda) but your family had originated …?

My forefathers left India around 1876 and they migrated to, what was in those days known as British East Africa; which was Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. And those 3 countries eventually evolved into separate nation states and we were in Uganda and we became Ugandan nationals.

And you arrived then in 1973, you said, in Montreal?

Actually, well we landed – our first stop was Halifax and the airport in Halifax is quite a ways out of town and looked very barren and desolate, and the passenger next door to me said, “Now you know why Canada has accepted you.” And that`s where we got our landed status and then we flew on to Montreal.

And what sorts of occupations or fields of endeavour have you been involved in since 1973?

Well, I`m a lawyer by training from the U.K. and when I first came to Vancouver I worked as a lawyer`s clerk, if you will , or I was given the designation legal assistant, but basically doing minimal legal work assisting other lawyers.

And did you stay in the legal field?

I didn`t because I had to go back to law school to re-qualify which would have been a 4-year undertaking. Very costly time-wise and money-wise, and I didn`t have the financial resources to become a full-time student for 4 years.

This is quite a common problem, is it not, for recent immigrants? What is a solution to this problem? Is it that the Canadian professions are too protective? Is it a genuine concern about maintaining the standards? Is it … How do we resolve this problem?

Let me tell you how we resolve it. I guess, number one, I was a lawyer trained in the U.K., so it`s the English Common Law system, very similar to the Canadian system.

And you know, we always talk about union-bashing and the unions are this and the unions are that, well the lawyer`s union is one of the most powerful unions in this country and we all know the profession is overcrowded. And this country really doesn`t need more lawyers and the profession really doesn`t want to dilute its work by accepting more and more foreign lawyers. So there are some hurdles to be cleared. But, as it happened, I decided to go into commercial real estate as a career. And so it was a switch and, on the whole, I think it`s been a positive switch. My father was a lawyer for 30 years and he never really wanted me to practice law, so I guess his wish was fulfilled.

How did you find, what was your experience like in the field of commercial real estate?

It was very difficult because I had this lawyer`s attitude of protecting my client. But I usually ended up representing buyers and my commission was being paid by the seller. So really it was the seller who was my client and not the buyer. So it was a very difficult adjustment; instead of conducting myself strictly as a professional I had to become a salesperson and it`s a huge shift and not an easy one, but over the years I`ve learned to understand that you really have to try and balance both parties` interests to be able to act as an effective middleman to earn a commission.

And did you operate in British Columbia only?

Originally, I operated in British Columbia and then I looked further east towards Ontario because there were opportunities in Ontario, and subsequently I even went to the States because there was a big movement of people looking for business opportunities in the United States. So I went down to Texas and California. I suppose it was part of my education.

No doubt. I would imagine that a very good command of English is a precondition for a business such as commercial real estate.

I think it`s so vitally important and in my case, when I was about 7 or 8, my father insisted that I spoke to him in English because he felt that language is such a powerful tool.

It`s much more important than having academic qualifications because if you cannot communicate, you cannot conduct business, you cannot build social relations , you cannot be part of the big society and the big picture that everybody wants to be. So whilst I would converse with my mother in my mother-tongue, my father insisted that I had to speak to him in English and my school holidays were very trying because every day at the breakfast table my father would give me 10 words that I had to look up in the dictionary and construct a sentence which gave a different meaning to the word. But at the end of the day , I ended up achieving a very good command of the English language.

And if I may quote Sir Winston Churchill he wasn`t a very bright student, he actually failed Latin, and he was confined to becoming a good student of English and, you know, today he is regarded as probably somebody who was able to write the best English in the simplest of words, and to be a great communicator of the English language. And speaking of English, and I respect all other languages, and I do speak other languages like French and German. Today English is such an important language that it`s a passport to 90 percent of the world business community. It`s the language of business, it`s the language of commerce, it`s the language that allows you to be independent.

It`s an interesting word: passport.

Because it really does enable you to go anywhere in the world. Similarly in Canada, I think even for someone who wasn`t born in this country, if you can speak English comfortably, you can go to any little village, any town anywhere, even within Canada. Sometimes, recent immigrants who tend sometimes to concentrate in certain areas in certain big cities might feel a bit of a reluctance to go to some of the smaller communities in the hinterland where there aren`t so many people of their origin. But certainly, everyone that I`ve spoken to who has gone to those smaller communities finds that as long as you can communicate there is no problem.

Not only no problem, but I know from the history of the settlement of my own community, which is the Israeli Muslim community, that the people who left the major urban centres and went into smaller towns and communities prospered, the opportunities were greater and they actually found greater acceptance in small communities because smaller communities tend to be more welcoming and there`s less competition compared to big cities. And a lot of new immigrants do not have the sophistication to compete with people who have been around much longer.

And I think the smaller communities often are more welcoming and care more about the members of that community, whereas in a big city nobody really cares that much about their neighbours.

That, and I think the family unit is probably stronger in the rural community as opposed to big cities.

People have more time for each other. People give out a helping hand . But you have to become part of the community; you cannot live in your own little world . That`s important.

Now as someone who, since coming to Canada, has placed a lot of importance on being part of the community, like you have, and being a Muslim, how did the events of September the 11th and some of the reaction and fallout from that affect you?

Well it`s very interesting because, as you know, I would think the majority of Muslims are extremely troubled by what happened . We do not believe it was a reflection of the faith.

But the fact of the matter is the terrorists were from the Muslim part of the world, and we hear about clash of civilizations etc, but what helped us immensely is that, because I was very much involved as part of the big community, I had so many people who reached out to me and said, “Farouk, we are sorry what has happened, is there anything we can do, is there any way we can help?”

In fact, at our house of worship in North Vancouver, 3 ladies actually showed up one day with a bouquet of flowers (I wasn`t there of course but the lay minister told me) to extend a gesture of goodwill towards us and say that we recognize that you are a peaceful religious community and we from another faith community just want to acknowledge this fact by bringing a little bouquet of flowers. And I don`t think they would have done that unless there was a genuine and sincere effort to reach out and become part and parcel of the community.

Do you think that the Muslim community, I mean even before September 11th, was not sufficiently well understood and how does one deal with that ?

Undoubtedly there is a longer history of Christianity, of the Jewish religion, and so forth, in this civilization in this country; how does one bridge that? How do people become more familiar with the Muslim faith?

I believe in one thing – that the only way people can understand your faith or your culture is if YOU reach out as a newcomer and get involved . And I think one of the easiest ways to get involved is by becoming a volunteer in a community-based organization, because as a volunteer, there`s no financial interest involved, there`s no political interest involved, but you are meeting people, you are communicating with them, you are interacting with them and that`s the only way they can find out what your faith or what your culture or what your value systems represent.

And you will find that most cultures put forward very positive ideals for coexistence and respect for the environment, respect for diversity.

You know, it`s interesting, the image of Islam that`s presented of course recently seems to emphasize, this sort of, I think they`re called, “Wahabi” the extremists and that seems to be the only image that`s put forward; all we ever see on the screen is that. And of course I know because I`m interested in history; the period of, in a sense , the renaissance of Muslim civilization from I guess the 8th to the 14th or 15th century, but we don`t see very much of that, there`s very little representation of that on television or elsewhere.

Some of the philosophers, I think leading doctors …

Well, there`s a reason for that, and I think the reason for it is that the majority of the Muslim faith community is a silent majority . They live in the rural areas of their respective countries; they have very little voice in the choice of government. So the governments do not really represent the people. We take democracy for granted here, we take elections for granted here, but I do not believe there is one or more, or what`s at least very few Muslim countries which you can say are democratic in the Western sense. You`ve got despotic governments, you`ve got monarchies, you`ve got dictatorships, and these people are supposedly speaking for their people but they have no mandate from their people.

And you have the unholy trinity of ignorance, poverty and disease and you have a total waste of the oil wealth. And, most regrettably, Islam in the Western world is only seen through the prism of the Arab-Israeli conflict which is not a religious conflict. It is a conflict involving land. And in the context of British Columbia, I said to most of my friends, if you can imagine the native Indian people are saying, “This is our land.” And we are saying, “Yes, it is your land but we are now here, and we have to work out a reasonable co-existence.”

I personally have been to Israel and I`ve seen what a remarkable country it is and I said to myself, “The whole of the Middle East could be so remarkable when you look at the tremendous resources of manpower and financial resources that are available there.” The reality is that the Jewish people have always had an existence in Israel. I mean, they are the oldest monotheistic tradition. And Christians are monotheistic, by which I mean, worship of one god, and so are Muslims, so we are really part of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition. But in the Western world, Islam really stopped at the gates of Vienna, when the Muslims invaded Europe. And that`s where the demarcation has been formed.

But you know it`s interesting in a sense, some of those rivalries that go back to the medieval period; I mean that was a different world then and there`s also a very strong demarcation between Eastern Christianity, Orthodox Christianity, and Western Christianity; things that mean much, much less to us today. And I think the concern is that we take some of these almost medieval rivalries and bring them into modern context.

And I think to the extent that the sort of Islam versus Christianity, or Islam versus the West conflict is an ideological one, then it`s almost medieval, and I agree with you that some of those countries, their problem is not that they`re Muslim, the problem is that they`re still … it`s not fair to say -they`re not backward … but they`re operating in a mode that is more akin to the medieval period than it is to today.

Well, I think the tragedy of the Muslim world is we claim that there is no distinction between the faith and your daily existence; that there`s an integral approach; the faith should reverberate on your daily lives.

So Islamic societies have tended not to be secular but the state and the church, if you will, are one. Whereas the Christian world decided at the time of the Reformation that that was not going to work; and that the state has its place and the church has its place. And maybe in the Western world the secularization has gone too far , from my point of view, because where do your children learn the ethics of society? I`m not saying this to promote a particular religion, but you can`t start learning the ethics of a society after you leave university. Ethics have to be taught at a very early state.

So in a sense while the Western world has made fantastic material progress, I think they have also lost something in the process and which is the ethical values; respect for humankind.

But, you know, it`s interesting, in the Middle Ages, which was the period when the West was presumably the most religious, when there was no separation between church and state prior to the Reformation. That did not necessarily correspond to peace. King Richard the Lionheart, whatever, would be praying in his cathedral and then he`d go out and lay waste to the countryside of France; and kill everybody he could see.

Like so much in life, I mean there`s all kinds of contradictions, but maybe we could close off by looking at Canada and so we have all these different communities who might be religious communities, or communities of different ethnic origins, we have the larger Canadian community, we have the local community, how do all these different communities … how do we get a sense of solidarity and common goals in Canada?

Well, I think first and foremost is take pride in being Canadian. When we first came, Senator Ray Perrault gave us very good advice: he said become “unhyphenated” Canadians. Now, I don`t need to identify myself as a visible Canadian; anyone who sees me sees I`m brown.

I don`t need to identify myself as a Muslim-Canadian; a name like Farouk tells you I`m a Muslim. And what does it matter whether I`m brown or whether I`m Muslim, the important thing is that I`m an active citizen contributing to the welfare of my country. For my sake , for my children`s sake and for everybody else`s sake. And I think we, as Canadians, have a unique opportunity of projecting ourselves to the world as a tolerant, peaceful, diverse society in which each one is able to pray to their own god, take pride in their ancestral values and yet take greater pride in being Canadian. Because the first generation immigrants obviously harked back to their motherland.

But you have to think of your children as to how they will best fit into Canadian society. My forefathers left India over 100 years ago and my father never visited India in his lifetime. To me, Africa is still, when I refer to back home, I still think of Africa. And yet I am not African by race, but certainly Africa has a certain warmth and nostalgia for me. But I`ve made a very determined effort to be a good Canadian by getting involved in volunteer work, getting involved in the political life of Canada. Being an active community worker where I live because where I live is my community; these are where my neighbours are and my neighbours are part of my community. And my faith group is also part of my community.

And my professional association is also part of my community. But the most important thing is that I am Canadian and for a couple of years, when I first came, I used to travel around as a stateless person from airport to airport, and I was always viewed with a great deal of suspicion. And when I finally got my Canadian citizenship the thought that nobody could ever take it away from me; ever, ever, ever not only gave me pride but so much peace and comfort. I mean, I was born in Uganda; my mother was born in Uganda. My father was constitutional advisor to the first Prime Minister of Uganda and took part in the independence negotiations and yet, by a stroke of a pen, we could all be stripped of our nationality.

And what people don`t realise is that once you have met the citizenship requirements it is your RIGHT to become a Canadian citizen. In the United States, it is still a privilege; you can be denied citizenship. But in Canada, as long as you have conducted yourself properly, it is your right. How many countries offer new immigrants the right to become a citizen by spending 1000 days here?

But while it`s a right, I think it`s also a privilege, and it has a tremendous value. And I think you feel that, and I feel that.

Well, I`m exceptionally thankful and I feel I am very blessed that I came to Canada. And I`m a very, very proud Canadian.

And I`m sure Canada is very lucky that you came too.

Well, I hope so. I owe more to Canada. I will not be able to repay my debt to Canada certainly in my lifetime.

Well, I think the fact that you think that, is a statement of why Canada is lucky that you came here.

Thank you!

Thank you.

The Linguist Manifesto for English learners

Have you studied English for many years?

Are you still afraid to speak English?

Please study this and repeat it to yourself daily.

I can be FLUENT in English.

My goal is to be FLUENT.

My goal is not to be perfect.

My goal is just to be FLUENT.

I can be FLUENT and still make mistakes.

FIRST I must FORGET what I learned in school.

I will make a FRESH start.

I will FORGET the rules of grammar.

I will FORGET the quizzes and tests.

I will FORGET all the times I made mistakes.

I will FORGET what my teachers taught me.

I will FORGET my native language.

I will FORGET who I am.

I am a new person.

I am an English speaker.

I will make a FRESH start.

I will have FUN!

I will FOCUS on things that are FUN and interesting.

I will learn.

I will LEARN how to LEARN.

I will LISTEN a lot.

I will LET myself go.

I will LISTEN and LET the English LANGUAGE enter my mind.

I will LISTEN often.

I will LISTEN every day.

I will LISTEN to the same content many times.

I will LISTEN to the meaning.

I will LISTEN to hear the words and phrases.

I will LISTEN early in the morning.

I will LISTEN late at night.

I will UNDERSTAND the language.

I will UNDERSTAND what I hear and read.

If I UNDERSTAND what I hear and read I will be able to speak and write.

UNTIL I can UNDERSTAND what I hear and read, I will not be able to speak and write well.

But there is no hurry.

I will work on UNDERSTANDING.

I will read a lot and especially, listen a lot.

I want to UNDERSTAND the meaning of English.

I do not want to UNDERSTAND the rules of grammar.

EVERY day is a learning day.

EVERY day the language is ENTERING my brain.

I ENJOY reading and listening EVERY day.

I study with ENERGY and ENTHUSIASM.

I study interesting things and ENJOY the language.

If I ENJOY the language I will improve.

Let the language ENTER my mind.

There is no need to push myself.

I am getting better EVERY day.

I will NEVER say that I am NO GOOD.

When I read and listen I will tell myself “NICE GOING”!

I will learn NATURALLY and easily.

I will be NICE to myself.


If I make a mistake I will say “NEVER MIND”.

If I cannot understand something I will say “NEVER MIND.”

If I forget a word I will say “NEVER MIND.”

If I have trouble saying what I want to say , “NO PROBLEM”.

I will continue.

I will TRUST myself.

I will be confident.

Confident learners improve quickly.

I will TREAT myself with respect.

I will TELL myself that I am doing well.

I just need to keep going, no matter what.

The more I listen and read using THE LINGUIST, the more I will understand.

The more words and phrases I save the more I will know.

Soon I will be ready to speak and write well.

I will take it easy.

I know I will succeed.


English Greetings and Goodbyes

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Good afternoon, Kate.

Good afternoon, Steve.

You know, I said, “Good afternoon.”

There are so many ways of saying, “Hello” to people, and nowadays some people say, “How’s it going?”, or “How are you doing?”

And it might be a little hard for some newcomers to know what is the most suitable greeting in different situations.

Let me ask you, Kate, if you meet a friend, what do you normally say?

Well, as you say, there are a lot of variations.

Certainly, for a friend, I would be more informal, more casual and perhaps might say, “How’s it going? “

“How’s it going?”

“What’s up?

“, something of that sort. Right.

Now, “What’s up?”

is perhaps less useful, but, “How’s it going?”

is used quite a bit.

Yes, I think so.

“How’s it going? “

But certainly, in a friendly situation.





Otherwise, “Hello” is always safe.

Yes, and “How are you? “

And “How are you?”

is always safe.


When you meet someone for the first time, it used to be that people would say, “How do you do? “


That’s not so common today.

I would probably now use, “Nice to meet you. “

“Nice to meet you”, “It’s a pleasure to meet you. “

Um hum.

But even more, you’re right, “Nice to meet you.”

That’s a very easy, standard greeting if you meet someone for the first time.


“Nice to meet you.”


When someone says, “Kate, this is so-and-so.”

I say, “Oh, hello, nice to meet you. “


And while the formal, “How do you do?”

is correct, it is really not used very often any more.

I use it, because I am old.

I would say you might use it more because you would be in a more formal business situation.


If I was wearing a suit and a tie, I might be more inclined to say, “How do you do?”


Now, another thing is, if you want to make a good impression, rather than just say, “Nice to meet you.”

it’s always nicer to say, “Very pleased to meet you.”

In my mind, I think that conveys a stronger sense of greeting.

Certainly that’s a very welcoming phrase to say, “I’m very pleased to meet you”.

Now, if you really want to exaggerate, you can say, “I have heard a lot about you. “


That’s another phrase.

But, that can imply good or bad!

Well, maybe we should leave that one alone!

I think that’s you need to have some stories to back that up.



Or, perhaps, “I’ve heard so much about you. “

Or, if you want to flatter the person, “I have heard many good things about you.”

But you know, I think, Kate, we’re getting too complicated.

I agree.

When you are introduced to someone, a simple, “Nice to meet you” is always appropriate.


Now, if you see people that you know, again, the “Good morning” ,”Good afternoon” ,”Good evening” are always appropriate.


Now, when you’re leaving someone, it’s not that difficult.

“Goodbye” is pretty easy.

Um hum.

But it can be nice to say, “See you”, “See you soon”, “See you tomorrow”.

Ah, “Have a nice evening.”

if you’re leaving, say the office.


I think we all say, “Have a good night” “Have a good evening.”

Something of that sort.

“Have a good weekend.”


“Enjoy your weekend. “


Now, I think a straight, “Goodbye.”

is perhaps a little short, that a

Um hum.

and may give more of an impression – this is completely the end.

Um hum.


Whereas, “See you tomorrow.”

“Have a good night.”

Something like that

Um hum.

Or, in the case of meeting someone for the first time, “It was very nice to meet you. “

That’s a good one.

“It was a very” ,”It was very nice to meet you” ,”I enjoyed meeting you”.




“It was nice meeting you. “


Well, you know, I think we’ll stop it there.

So, it’s been very nice chatting with you Kate.

Thank you, Steve.

I enjoyed it as well.


See you later.

See you later.



Darcy Rezac, Managing Director of the Vancouver Board of Trade

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I`m meeting this morning with Darcy Rezac, Managing Director of the Vancouver Board of Trade.

Now I know, Darcy, you have a particular interest, amongst your other duties, in networking and if I`m not mistaken you give a course on networking here at the Board of Trade?

I give a seminar to our new members when they join.

And is this something that all the new members typically take part in?Yes.

What are some of the things that you are able to point out to them that helps them in their networking? Well, networking is not something that comes naturally to people; it’s like riding a bike, you’ve got to get over the fear and just get on with it and practice those habits.You‘ll find that some people, diplomats, for example, will learn the skills over a long period of time, some better than others. People in the public affairs community must have unusually good skills. People in the media have to have good networking skills. Networking is nothing more than communicating with people in a way to make an impression, preferably a positive impression.

And I presume, you feel this is a very important business skill and I guess the members of the Board of Trade feel the same way.How it does it help people in their business?Well, most people are involved in enterprises that require contacts with other people or usually selling a product or service to other people and to do so means they have to make contacts.But even networking within an organization is terribly important if people are to succeed and go up the ladder of success .

I guess too, particularly for people who might be newcomers to a society, whether immigrants or people who moved in from elsewhere in Canada, its even more important to network.Very much so, otherwise they‘ll be pigeon-holed in various tasks and jobs that won`t allow them to achieve their full potential.

Are there certain, sort of, attitudes, certain mind-sets that are important in networking? Absolutely. Firstly, they have to be available. People have to go to things, and go to a lot of things. The other mindset is that their expectations must be realistic. When they go to an event or function, or someplace where they can network, they ought not to expect that thats where theyre going to make the sale if they’re in sales, but theyre going to make a contact.

Or for that matter where theyre going to find a job, if they‘re looking for a job. In other words, it’s a long road. What you’re really looking for is market intelligence; market information to allow you to achieve your goals. Be it finding a job, or finding an order, or relocating, whatever it might be. You are looking for information. And usually, it`s a long thread. One contact leads to another, which leads to another.

What are the opportunities that are available in a city like Vancouver? Obviously the Board of Trade is the premium location for networking. What are some other opportunities for networking? Church – go to church. Get involved in volunteer activities. Register with Volunteer Vancouver as a member. Take a look at all the organizations, events and societies in town that require volunteers. Volunteer Vancouver is Everything from the DragonBoat Festival to the Molson Indy to the Air Canada Open all require volunteers. Invest the time and money, if you`ve got to buy a sweatshirt or jacket or whatever, do whatever you have to do, get out and volunteer, be it for the symphony or whatever it might be to make contacts.

Now, Volunteer Vancouver would steer you to all of these opportunities? Is that like a one-stop shopping location? They maintain an inventory of events and activities in town and they refer volunteers to those activities. They do all the volunteer staffing, for example, for the DragonBoat Festival and the Molson Indy has I think over 1,000 volunteers.

And uh, what about some of these breakfast clubs, luncheon clubs, dinner clubs? Are those good places to network? Excellent. Vancouver AM is a good one. Industry associations, if someones in the high-tech sector, for example, the British Columbia Technology Industry Association has events.Go to those.If you‘re in the tourism business, Tourism Vancouver has events.

Are these typically open to people who are not yet in the business who would like to meet people to get into the business? Sure. Some of them are. Certainly Vancouver A.M.has a sales and marketing focus. It`s kind of a breakfast club. So, I mean, there are all sorts of things that you can do.

And I guess some people go there in order to sell whatever services they have. Other people go there to meet people. Thats right, certainly new immigrants are not only in downtown Vancouver.But Id recommend the first thing they do is go and join their local Chamber of Commerce. Pay the dues, start going to meetings, offer to volunteer for various events and activities. That could be anything from taking tickets at the door at an event through to participating in some policy work or some other activities as time goes on.

The Chambers of Commerce, the local ones, are quite open to anyone really?Yes, anyone can join with an interest in business.

Now, how important is it to have an impressive name card? Obviously, someone who has immigrated here, even though he might be a professional immigrant but is working in a laundry, he doesn’t have a name card.Does that inhibit him in any way? Well, you have to have a business card.The business card should be easy to read, it should have your first name clearly depicted on it. Not just an initial, but the name you want to be called by.If its a Korean or Asian name where its juxtaposed, I would recommend that you put it in the order in Canada that you want it pronounced or underline the name that you want to be called by.You want e-mail address, telephone number and who you are. If you have a profession, if youre an accountant then you put that on it.

Even though, you might be working in a laundry at this time? Just put your profession on it? Just your name and your profession? Absolutely. People should be able to, from a name card, get some idea of what it is you`re doing or what you want to do.

Now what are the special functions around networking that take place here at the Board of Trade? Well, the Board of Trade puts on about 120 major events a year, and about another 100 smaller events. We have a members reception once a month where people come and its a complimentary reception where they meet 100 other people and hand out their business cards and chat. We start off with a networking overview of the seminar so that people aren’t shy when you hand out a card and hand it to people – its what they expect. At all our luncheons and events we have major speakers everywhere from Corazon Aquino to Lee Quan Yu, Prince Philip has spoken here, to business CEOs, bank presidents and so on. We’ve had Gerry Adams speak here and we had Lauren Lombard speak last week. We’ve had some controversial figures speak here.Even Jane Goodall has spoken here.So we have a wide spectrum of speakers.Some of those events are larger than others, but at all of our events we ask people to exchange business cards and get to know the people at their table.So people always come away with 8 or 10 business cards from a Board of Trade event, if they don‘t they`re not networking properly.

Now, I think you have also some specialized networking sessions? We have networking round tables once a month where we ask people, in half-hour periods, to meet people at their table, hand out business cards and say what it is they do and they`re interested in. And then we switch to another table and then another so they get to meet 3 groups of people.

And presumably your membership consists of people from all kinds of different origins, recent immigrants, long-established Vancouverites?Our membership is the broad cross-section of businesses in Vancouver and for people who work for businesses.We have individual memberships of course as well.People who aren`t directly engaged in business, but who want to be involved with the business community join – but the large companies are members, but most of our members, 80 percent of our members, are small businesses or individuals.

And how much of an obstacle can language be if people aren’t completely fluent in English? What degree of fluency do you need to be an effective networker? You‘ve got to be able to carry on a normal dinner-type conversation. Language is very important. I wouldn’t worry about accents. Accents are very common here.I wouldnt worry too much about being perfectly grammatical but it can be painful when people, theyve got to want to be able to exchange information and want to engage the listener in a meaningful way. But I would think that the immigrant will know when they have achieved that level just by the body language theyre getting back from the people they talk to. And a good place to test that is at our members` reception and to practice that as well.

Now, once again, the membersreception that occurs just once a month, but its for any member, not just the new members. Anyone who wants to show up shows up. I should go to that, Im a member now. I should come. Any other advice that you might leave with people? If you take the situation of an immigrant who has been here for 1, 2, 3 years: very often they dont know many people, sometimes they feel less than confident with their English.Even though they may have a professional background, they might be working in jobs that are not so satisfactory, which can be a little bit soul-destroying or undermining their confidence. How could they use the Board of Trade or networking, in general, to integrate themselves better into this society? Come out to a lot of events. Go to a lot of events in the community. Get involved as a volunteer, look for opportunities where they can add value to the organization. If they decide to join up with Vancouver AM then volunteer to take tickets in the morning. You don`t need a lot of language skills to do that, but become known. And then people talk to you and you can respond. But be visible and do a lot of it. A good firm handshake, looking people in the eye when they speak is very, very important. Showing an interest in the listener. There are other things they can do to get skills. Certainly, Dale Carnegie is a course that I highly recommend that people go to and that would bolster their confidence.

Even the audio version of it or do you think they should go to the course itself?Well, either one.But certainly everybody that I`ve put through Dale Carnegie has come back a changed person.But get out there and do things as often as you can, meet as many people as you can and speak to people, hand out your business card – tell them what you do.

Well, I think we`ve covered the subject and I appreciate you taking the time. Thank you very much. O.K.

Asking For Things in English

Hello, Kate.

Hi, Steve.

Here we are again.

Now, in this dialogue, I would like to talk about how people should ask for things, because we are often in situations where we need information.

For example, if you go to the store, and you’re looking for the vegetable department, or you’re looking for salad, or you’re looking for fish, or you phone someone, and you need some information.

And sometimes, I think for people who are new to the language, they don’t know what the best way is.

Now if you want some information, how do you ask for it?

I would say, “Excuse me” to catch the person’s attention, as you say, the clerk, or at the supermarket.

“Excuse me.

Could you tell me?”

I would always use “could.”

Um hum.

You could say, “Would you tell me?”, but I really think the “can”, “could”

I agree with you.

“Could you please tell me?”



“Excuse me. Could you please tell me where I can find the tomatoes?”, “Could you please tell me where the tomatoes are?”, something of that sort.

You can also I think the “Excuse me” is absolutely necessary.

You can also say, “I beg your pardon”, but I think “Excuse me” is easier.

We needn’t complicate things.

It’s very standard.

“Excuse me.

And, yes, “Could you please tell me?”

“Could you please?”

I sometimes say, “Where could I find?”


“Where could I find the meat?”

Um hum.

“Where could I find coffee? “Um hum.

“I wonder if you could tell me?”, but that’s getting too complicated. Or, “Excuse me. I’m looking for such-and-such. “Right. Now, what if you were phoning someone let’s say you were phoning to enquire about the arrival time of an aeroplane? Again, I would use the same phrase.”Hello” because in a telephone conversation you’re not interrupting, whereas stepping up to someone in the store you may be interrupting, where I would use “Excuse me.”So, on the phone: “Hello. Could you tell me what time the flight from Toronto arrives? “”Could you tell me?”Yes. “Could you please tell me what time the flight from Toronto arrives? “Right.

Yeah. There are sometimes situations where you need to explain what it is you know, why it is you need something. Like, you may go to the hardware store, and let’s say that you have a problem around the house. You have a leak in your plumbing. So then you may have to say, “Excuse me, I have a leak in my plumbing. Where could I find plumbing supplies? “Absolutely.

Or at the library. I could say, “Excuse me. I’m looking for information on George Washington. Could you tell me where I could find that? “Um hum.

Now, I think those are. I’m trying to think if there are other situations like that, where there are special ways of asking, but I think the formula of, “Excuse me. Could you please tell me?”

I think you can also say to people, “Excuse me. Could you please help me? “Absolutely.

I think that’s a very good format, depending on what the situation is.Most people, if you say, “Could you please help me?”, in other words, “I need your help.”they’re quite willing to help.Oh, absolutely.That gets their attention.They should listen to you and hear the explanation of what you need.Right.

Or a simple, “Excuse me.Do you have?”something. “Do you have rice?”

“Excuse me. Do you have MacIntosh apples? “Um hum.

Okay. I think we’ve covered that. I think so. I think we’ll stop it right there. Sounds good to me. Alright. We’ll continue, and I’ll see you the next time. Sounds good. See you later. Okay. Bye!

Introduction to The Linguist and LingQ

Let’s talk about The Linguist system and how to use it.

Welcome to The Linguist.

Today I am meeting with one of our learners.

What is your name?

My name is Fumiko.

My name is Steve, and I developed The Linguist language learning system.

I am glad to meet you.

I am glad to meet you, too.

I think you speak English very well.

My English is OK, but I want to improve.

Can you help me?

The Linguist system will help you.

The Linguist is a complete system.

If you do all the different parts of The Linguist you will develop the attitude you need to learn a new language like English.

Many learners do not have the right attitude towards learning languages.

Many learners have poor learning habits.

The first step towards success in language learning is to have the right attitude.

Is it enough to have a good attitude and good habits?


But it is very very important, perhaps the most important thing.

You have to be confident that you can change.

You have to believe that a complete system like The Linguist can make you fluent.

I know you can do it.

Many learners like to complain that English is difficult.

But it is not really difficult if you want to succeed.

If I promised you a million dollars if you spoke English more like a native speaker, you would do it.

You would find a way to overcome the difficulties.

You would not just rely on your teacher and your textbook.

The Linguist will train you in the right attitude.

It also will give you another important thing.

An efficient method.

You will learn a complete method of language learning that you can use your whole life.

But for it to work you have to do all the activities.

There is a reason why there are eight different activities on our Task List.

You must do them all for best results.

What exactly do I need to do?

Mostly you must listen and read a lot.

As we talk about The Linguist system our conversations are recorded so that you can listen to them over and over again.

You can also read the texts of these conversations again and again.

That is what you need to do to get used to the language.

You do not learn a language like you learn mathematics.

You get used to a language until it becomes a part of you.

That is the basic principle of The Linguist system.

As you read these texts you may find words that you do not understand.

Double click on them and then click on “save word/phrase” in the upper right hand corner.

You will see the meaning of the new word in English and in your own language.

Save the word.

Save all words that are new to you, or words that you are not fully familiar with.

Once you have saved all these new words you will be asked to “update known words” at the bottom of the page.

Please do so.

This will tell the system that you already know all the words that you did not save.

You are building your personal language profile.

This is important as you will soon understand.

After you have saved your new words, you can read the text again to save phrases that you want to learn.

I will explain more about the importance of phrases later.

After you have saved phrases it is time to start listening over and over to this conversation to really make it a part of you.

Go to LISTEN in The Linguist system and download the sound file of this conversation and listen to it many times to get used to it, even though you basically understand it.

This way the language will slowly become natural to you.

Then what do I do?

Once you are familiar with one content item, you should go on to the next.

Go to CHOOSE in our system and click on it.

This will take you to the Linguist Library.

Pick another item to study.

We recommend you first complete the section called About The Linguist.

This will help you properly understand what to do in The Linguist and why it will help you become a natural speaker of English.

Is that all I have to do?

Yes, just follow the instructions on The Linguist Task List.

You will notice that there are eight steps to success in learning English on The Linguist task list: CHOOSE-READ-LISTEN-REVIEW-WRITE-SPEAK-PRONOUNCE-MEASURE.

Do them all for the best results.

The Linguist program is carefully integrated.

These steps are all connected in The Linguist system.

They are all important.

You should do them all.

You should make a weekly plan with the amount of time you will spend on each activity.

Introduction to LingQ

Hello, and welcome to the EnglishLingQ podcast.

I’m your host, Mark Kaufmann.

The way this podcast works is that each episode we will be presenting an interview, an excerpt from an audio book, some kind of genuine English content.

And after you listen to it a few times, we strongly recommend you visit our site at

LingQ of course is spelled L-i-n-g-Q.

I say of course only because hopefully you’ve seen that already when you first subscribed to this podcast.

Once you’re at our site at, you’ll find that you can sign up and register. Registration is free so please come and take a look. See all the tools that we have to offer. These are the tools that form the basis for The Linguist language learning system and they are extremely effective.

With that having been said, I think it’s time we moved on to our content for today. What better way to get started on this podcast than with an introduction to our system. So, the first content item is an introduction for beginners. If you’re not a beginner then we will shortly be podcasting our second episode which is an introduction for intermediate and advanced learners. So here we go, with Introduction for Beginners. Welcome to The Linguist. My name is Steve. What is your name? I live in Canada. Where do you live?

Do you want to learn to speak English well? I think you can learn to speak English well if you want to. I think you will enjoy studying English with The Linguist system.

You need to listen. You need to read it. You need to learn many words and phrases. The Linguist system will help you to learn many words and phrases. You will enjoy studying with The Linguist.

Please use our system.You will not only learn to speak English well, you will learn to write English well.You will learn to understand English better.You will learn to read English easily.

You can improve your English. You can enjoy English. If you enjoy the language you will improve. Believe me. I know how to learn languages. I learned nine languages as an adult.

Good luck in your studies. Choose items to study from The Linguist Library. Make sure you choose items from the Easy Starter section of our Linguist Library. Just practice listening and reading often and your English will get better every day.