Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sharing Stories...In English

My favorite volunteer experience was teaching English (called ESL or English as a Second Language) to refugees and immigrants in the last state we lived. I taught a night class for adults once a week. Over the course of the year I volunteered, I came to know people from over twenty different countries and four different continents! The experience was rewarding, humbling, inspiring, and sometimes comical (especially when I’d have to resort to using charades to explain something). A few weeks ago, I saw a sign in our local library advertising a new ESL class that was starting. I called the point of contact and asked if they needed any help. She laughed and said, “Of course!” And now I’m happily teaching ESL again, one night a week at a nearby church. Though the people are different, their enthusiasm to learn English is much the same. This week they learned about the past tense. One of the suggested activities in our book was to discuss how they met their spouse, and each student shared her story. The result, surprisingly, was a lot of laughter.

We laughed at one woman’s story, where her poor husband had to ask her father 4 times before finally getting his blessing to marry his daughter. Another woman made us laugh as she explained how she rejected her husband on 2 separate occasions before she even considered dating him.

I’m looking forward to hearing more of their stories and learning more about them. And they might just (hopefully!) learn a little English in the process.

9 comments:

New Girl on Post said...

What an awesome person you are! I think you are doing a great service to those that you are teaching!

southeastcountrywife said...

that sounds really cool! i have done an TESL/TESOL course and if somebody just gave me a book that worked, i might be into it. the thought of lesson-planning, however...!!! yours looks interesting. :)

wendy said...

How cool is that! I love that you didn't sit around wondering if they needed help, you called!

Kristen M. said...

Very cool. I've also worked with refugees and I did an overseas ESL internship in college. Some of my best memories are from those days. (It was over 10 years ago!) Now my mom is teaching a class at her church. I would happily do it again if the opportunity came up.

Ann M. said...

that is so awesome!

Reynie said...

That's awesome that you are doing that. I bet you improve your other language skills while doing it as well.

Angela said...

That is wonderful... a great way to give back and met new people too!

Joanne said...

That sounds like a fascinating endeavor! I'll bet you learn from them about human experience as much as they learn from you. Very rewarding.

Annie said...

What a great post! I like that fact that you are teaching others and reaping the benefit of learning from them as well. Nice!