[Featured photo:Bianca Garcia, an English as a second language teacher instructs a class Thursday, March 10, 2016 at Coyle Free Library. An ESL class is being presented by Lincoln Intermediate Unit at Coyle Free Library. (Photo: Markell DeLoatch, Public Opinion)]
CHAMBERSBURG – Three organizations are working together to help give local adults – whose primary language is not English – the chance to improve their ability to work and socialize in their community.
With Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12’s Franklin County Literacy Council and Migrant Education Program, Coyle Free Library is hosting English-as-a-second-language (ESL) classes, 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
According to an email from Frank Thomas, the program coordinator for the Franklin County Literacy Council, the purpose of the class is to meet the needs of local residents seeking to improve their English language skills. Coyle Library is providing the classroom space, the Migrant Program is providing staff and logistical support, and the Literacy Council is providing professional training and curriculum development.
Eric Mandell, student support specialist for the Migrant Education Program, said the program was started out of a need for the growing community in Chambersburg for whom English is not the primary language.
There is no charge to take the class. It is offered on a year-round basis, and while there are no graduating classes – as adults can come and go as they please – students stay with the people they began the class with.
A student’s skill level is determined by a base-line assessment test performed by Sue Michalski, another member of the Franklin County Literacy Council.
Benefits from taking these classes besides learning English, are gaining self-confidence, feeling better about themselves, and serving as a role model to their children, according to Mandell.
The class is taught by Shippensburg University student Bianca Garcia, who originally hails from Mexico and is bilingual in both English and Spanish. The English that Garcia teaches is conversational English, or English that adults will use in the workplace, at home, in the local schools, and in various other different community environments.
A reporter was present on Thursday, the second day of class in the new session.
Garcia said that on the first day on Tuesday, she went over the English alphabet and numbers 1 through 20 while pronouncing everything slowly for the students’ understanding and having them say it back in English. On Thursday, Garcia had her small class review Tuesday’s lesson, before moving on to personal information and countries.
The personal information portion consisted of students’ names, their phone numbers, and information that would be found on their license or identification card. Garcia explained the difference between first and last names, the importance of an area code for phone numbers, and their address.
During the country section, students learned to say which country they were from and what state in that country they were from. Before the end of class, they had moved onto the contraction “what’s” and how to use it to say “what is my name,” “what is his name,” and “what is her name.”
Students were then given homework to practice the use of “what’s” before next class. The next lesson will deal with how to order from menus and make appointments.
Student William Gomez said, with Garcia translating, that he loves the class and loves Garcia’s teaching ability and how she repeats everything for students to understand it better. Zuliany Morales said, also through translation, that she enjoys learning how to pronounce the alphabet and numbers correctly and she’s enjoying learning how to listen to directions or instructions.
“I like the class,” Morales said through Garcia.
More volunteer tutors like Garcia are needed by the literacy council. The council will hold training for people interested in becoming volunteer tutors in the Literacy Council’s Adult Basic Education and ESL programs on Saturday, April 9 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at 256 South Main Street in Chambersburg. Those wishing to participate should call 717-504-4459 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register or for more information.
“I can’t say enough good things about those involved,” Mandell said.
David Barr, 717-262-4752