Chilean helping others come to grips with English

Daniela Gonzalez (left) has been helping Maria and Felipe Valtiette improve their English at...
Daniela Gonzalez (left) has been helping Maria and Felipe Valtiette improve their English at Literacy North Otago. Photo by Sally Rae.
When Daniela Gonzalez arrived in New Zealand, unable to speak English, she joked the only sounds she heard in the rural Canterbury countryside were cows mooing.

Now her English has improved - thanks to plenty of practice - and, now living in Oamaru, she is helping another fellow Chilean, Maria Valtiette, come to grips with the language.

"When you have to learn another language, it is really, really complicated sometimes. I think Maria is lucky compared with me.

"She is in a town, she can meet more people and practise more. I think she can learn faster than me," Ms Gonzalez (28) said.

Ms Valtiette (49), who works in the kitchen at the Galleon Restaurant, has been meeting Ms Gonzalez once a week at Literacy North Otago.

When Ms Gonzalez asked if she could help, manager Paul Marsh immediately thought of Ms Valtiette and her son Felipe (16).

They were getting to know each other and, on Wednesday, Ms Valtiette brought along the menu from the restaurant to discuss.

While it was a big decision to move to New Zealand, Ms Valtiette said, she was enjoying Oamaru because it was a quiet and nice place and the people were friendly.

Ms Gonzalez, her husband Dario Mendoza, who is a vet, and their 8-year-old daughter, Catalina, are applying for residency.

Literacy North Otago has students from a variety of countries including Romania, Japan, China, Uruguay, Thailand and the Pacific Islands.

It was intended to hold tutor training before the end of the year and Mr Marsh was keen to hear from anyone who was interested.

Adult Learners Week continued in Oamaru this week with a "blokes day" in the former Avis Communications building in Thames St on Thursday and performing arts yesterday.

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