As she rummaged through her purse, looking for a medical form, the patient apologized. "I just come from English class," she explained with a heavy Farsi accent. As she drew some papers from her bag in her search for the errant form, I caught sight of that day's lesson: "How to do a return or exchange."
I'm not arguing the importance of knowing how to return a bathmat at Linens 'N Things. It's just that the patient's level of English was such that she could barely get by in my office without an interpreter. It seemed a bit premature for her to be learning about store credits when she couldn't name the medications she was on.
I want to see her course syllabus. The sequence in which topics are covered would say a lot about Canadian culture. I'll bet the lesson on how to order a double-double from Tim Horton's drive-through gets priority over the one on how to tell your doctor what major surgeries you've had.