The freedom to create | ELPNZ

The freedom to create

11 December 2016

Birdsong around her Henderson home wakes Russian-born Vera Matyagina up at 5am. But she doesn’t mind – she loves nature, especially in New Zealand. And she also loves the way nature is inspiring her creative side.

Vera says feeling more comfortable with speaking English is a large part of how happy she is now.

She and her husband immigrated to New Zealand six years ago to be with their daughter and grandchildren. When they first arrived, they both attended private English language classes which helped improve their written English. But it wasn’t until Vera started classes with English Language Partners that she felt confident to speak English.

Vera says Russia was “a very closed country” and even though she learnt English at school and university, she had little opportunity to speak it. “I didn’t think I would ever need English in the future,” she says.

The next generation of her family has a very different experience learning English. Her youngest grandson, aged eight, is not only fluent in English, but can also speak some Chinese. “He has a few Chinese children in his class. Children learn new languages a lot faster than us. For me it is very hard.”

The family speaks Russian at home so her two-hourly English Language Group class each week means Vera can keep improving her spoken English. “My husband sometimes translates written English for me but he doesn’t like to speak English much,” says Vera. “It is a man thing”.

Today Vera may potter in her garden, making clay figurines for her grandchildren: she’s recently created a teddy bear and a turtle. Or she may take out her pen and write another poem in English, because now she can.

It was a sunny day
You looked very nice
I made a joke for you
I wanted to see your smile

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