MONTREAL (CityNews) ─ It takes a special kind of motivation to move to a new country, learn a new language and then share that knowledge with others. For Leonora Laput, it all started with a bus ride gone wrong.
The Philippine-born Laput immigrated to Canada with no knowledge of French. In her early days in Quebec, unable to speak the language, she got lost while taking the bus on her way home.
That was enough for her to vow to learn French − her third language − which she can now fluently speak. And Laput took it one step further: she began offering other immigrants from the Philippines free French lessons so that they could navigate their new country with ease.
“I know there’s not a lot of Filipino who can speak French so fluently,” said Laput. “To be able to share that knowledge is really gratifying for me.
“It was one of many reasons why I decided to really learn French. Because I told myself, if I were to live here and stay here and if I want to work in the future, I will really have to learn the language. Otherwise it would be difficult for me.”
That mindset led to the creation of “Mag French Tayo,” an informal online class for Filipinos who want to learn French − and learn it for free.
“I simply want to help my compatriots to learn the basics of the language, to help them build their self-confidence, to motivate them to get out of that safe haven or comfort zone and start making short conversations with friends, colleagues and families in French.”
Laput works as a Tagalog, English and French interpreter, and gives up family time on Friday and Saturday evenings to teach Filipinos struggling with the language.
She says her students are more than willing to contribute and participate in their French-speaking communities.
“They are mostly temporary workers in Quebec,” she said. “They arrive with zero knowledge, some were able to study French in the Philippines, but most of them are temporary workers and they really need this lesson to be able to converse with colleagues.
“It would be very nice that some of them will be able to learn and be fluent in French through my lessons.”