Alejandra’s Testimony

Almost six years ago I came to Auckland from Christchurch looking for work after I lost my job due to the Christchurch earthquake.

The first place that I rang was the Crowne Plaza Hotel. I got an interview for a position as a room attendant. The day of the interview, while I was waiting for the housekeeping manager in the lobby area, I made a long-term goal: I wanted to be a receptionist. But for me it was something almost impossible because at the time, although I could understand English, I couldn’t speak it very well.

Since coming to New Zealand, I’ve been working in full-time positions, leaving me without much time to study and improve my English. So the only option has been to study by myself. It was okay to learn basic grammar but too difficult to practice speaking because I’m not a talkative person. The English language is a challenge for me and for that reason I’ve always looked for situations that allow me to work and study.

Two years ago, my mum took me to her English school called Literacy Waitakere. It’s an institution that has a programme for work-place students that helps them to improve their chances to become better qualified and also to improve their communication in the workplace. It’s free and they also try to fit in around your working hours.

Since I enrolled here as a one-to-one workplace student, this course has given me the confidence that I needed to take the next step towards my goal. After four and half years of working in housekeeping, I got the opportunity in 2015 to move to the front office as a concierge of the hotel. In this position, I’ve had more interaction with different guests that allows me to practice the language, each time with different scenarios. I’ve increased my vocabulary and fluency and everyday my confidence grows when I speak to guests and colleagues.

Each week I go back to my tutor and we study the different situations that I had at work during the week and we practice together to improve the areas I’m not confident to communicate in.  Now, after one year of working as a concierge, I will have the opportunity to do cross-training at reception. That means I’ll be trained for one month as a receptionist and when a position becomes available I can apply for it. I’m very happy because I am not too far from reaching my long-term goal. Thank you !

Alejandra R