ESL: Teaching and learning

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Spanish speakers from all parts of the world migrate to the United States to gain employment, live a better lifestyle and to learn or hone their English skills. English as a Second Language (ESL) classes help them adapt to these new changes.

Spring Semester 2012 was the time when sophomore Logan Whitley decided he wanted to form an organization that served the community. “I feel that service to the community is important,” Whitley said. This decision led him to ask Rev. Helen Casey-Rutland what he could do to better the community and the church.

Casey-Rutland told him about Nepali refugees needing assistance in learning English.

To help him decide whether this was a worthy endeavor, Whitley consulted Santa Gazmere, de facto leader of the Nepali community.

Telling him the Nepali children have nothing to do while their parents worshipped prompted Whitley to investigate the prospect of forming a tutoring program at Grace Methodist Church.

After learning it was a fruitful project, Whitley pursued the community program. With the help of United Grace Methodist Church, United Campus Ministries and CNU students, Whitley was prepared to help out the Nepali children’s English development. The Nepali children’s eventual disinterest with the tutoring sessions forced Whitley and the volunteers to locate new students.

To do so, Campus Minister Rev. Susan Cothran enlisted Whitley’s help in recruiting Hispanic adults with CNU senior Patricia Vorwald connecting with the Hispanic community. As the organization evolved, the student composition changed from Nepali to Hispanic adults while CNU student volunteers grew.

“In an effort to revitalize the program, we took in Hispanic adults who desired to better their conversational and written English skills,” Whitley explained.

Vorwald got involved with ESL in Fall 2012, helping native Spanish speakers adjust to the United States culture by tutoring them in English. To enhance their English skills, Vorwald introduced them to native English speaking CNU students who helped the Hispanics improve their English. Her involvement with ESL can be traced back to when she tutored her mother, Maria, who had poor English and needed to have the ability to communicate with others after coming from Peru. Alongside her mother, Vorwald tutored her friend, Lino who also needed help speaking fluent English.

“Since my mother struggled with speaking fluent English in America, I tutored her and my friend, Lino how to communicate in English with people.”

Although Vorwald contributes to the Hispanic’s English development, she can attest that she is learning better English herself.

“Although I’m teaching English to students, I’m also learning how to improve my English skills to better converse with native English speakers. It’s not just me tutoring others in English without learning from them as well; it’s a mutual relationship,” Vorwald said.

Vorwald encourages people who need help in communicating in English to come out to ESL as they can learn the fundamentals of the English language.

“I want more people involved as the number of tutors and students can potentially benefit each other. It’s not just the English tutors guiding Hispanics to speaking better English, but they can help non-Spanish speakers talk  in their language to hone their Spanish skills,” Vorwald says.