ESL with a Southern Accent
With an active group of volunteers – several of them former English teachers and others looking for a place to share their love of reading and writing – an ESL program was started at Springmoor. The English as a Second Language Program was revived about ten months ago with 12 residents willing to learn how to teach Springmoor employees the language skills needed for both groups to better communicate.
As Suggie Styres, a Springmoor resident explained it, “between our slow southern drawl and our not-quite-so-perfect hearing, there was a definite need to work with the employees whose first language was not English.” The Springmoor residents first met with a former ESL Teacher who volunteered to share her knowledge and teaching materials with the group. Employees were then recommended by their supervisors and paired with a volunteer.
There are currently 15 students that range in age from their late-20s to their mid-60s. Their native languages include Arabic, Thai, Spanish, Chinese and Portuguese. The students, all current employees, work in the housekeeping, laundry and food service departments. A participant meets with his or her “teacher” during their lunch break or after work. Sessions can range from a short 15 minutes to a longer 45-minute instructional session. The resident and the employee decide what works best for the two of them.
Our residents have been so inspired by the program that they have begun to purchase some of their own teaching supplies. Flash cards, primary readers for adult students, and tape recorders are all valuable sources for learning the language. Some employees can easily speak the language but may need to learn the skills of writing and spelling. Others simply want to be more proficient in the language. Students and residents have now logged over 125 sessions and 90+ hours of instruction. As Marie, a former 7th grade US History teacher says about the program, “working with the employee is the greatest joy I have had since moving to Springmoor.” She is happy to share history stories with her student as she works with her each week.
A Fast Learner
Maria, from Mazonis, Brazil has been working at Springmoor for eight years. She has been living in the United States for 14 years with her two adult children and two grandchildren. Maria enrolled in the program because she wanted to become a US citizen. To reach her goal she had to be able to read English, comprehend what she read and understand US Government & History. “She is learning fast,” Barbara, her ESL teacher says. “We both are,” she adds. “I have learned so much from Maria. We are both teachers and learners.”
Thanks to this wonderful program for our residents and employees, Maria passed the citizenship test and became a US Citizen in May! She had a group of Springmoor residents in Durham to congratulate her on her great achievement. ESL with a southern accent and lots of hard work make this a team effort that can’t be beat.
Springmoor Herald: Suggie Styres contributed to this article