|02-08-2005, 09:40 AM||#1|
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Elway was just an arm =MacGruder
And this is the way it should be ...........
The road is long and hard'
By ANDREA FALKENHAGEN
Star-Tribune staff writer Tuesday, February 08, 2005
English can be so tricky -- the "th," the "ch," the silent "e's.
And then there's pronunciation -- "Chair" can sound an awful lot like "share."
"Choose" can easily turn into "shoes."
For people who just moved to Casper from other countries, learning the English language could seem a task impossible to overcome. But Christy Domman's English as a Second Language classes, held five times a week at the Boys and Girls Club, show there are plenty of adults willing to accept the challenge.
She starts out simple.
"This is your fingernail," said Domman to two Spanish-speaking women on Monday afternoon
"Fingernail," they repeat.
And the list of body parts continued.
"It's difficult in Casper, I think, because it's such a monolingual town," Domman said. "There aren't as many people who speak Spanish here, so they are forced to learn English."
Socorro Esparza agrees.
Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Esparza has lived in Wyoming for nine years. But a recent new position at McDonald's means she works with a lot of people who only speak English.
"(The class) helps a lot. Before, I am nervous when I have to talk to people. Now, it's better," she said.
Domman's classes are run by the Adult Basic Education Center at Casper College. She is the only paid teacher, but she is assisted by several volunteers from the Literacy Volunteers of Casper.
"We're trying to lower the ratio of students-to-tutors, so we supplement the classes with our tutors. We couldn't run it without our tutors," said Lisa Mixer, who works at Casper College with the tutors.
This year,the English students come from countries as varied as Cuba, Colombia and Algeria.
The students' backgrounds are varied, as well.
Some, like Catalina Zea, are living in Casper because their spouses work in the oil industry and have been transferred to Wyoming for a few months or years.
Others have come to Casper on their own accord, to live with families or seek a better life in the United States.
But whatever the background, learning another language is never easy, the teachers said.
"I think it's incredibly hard to go over to our class, as a successful adult in one realm, and all the sudden you find yourself in the beginning group where you can't speak English," Mixer said.
The road is long and hard, she said -- it takes up to 230 hours to go from one level of instruction to another.
"It's an incredible amount to time to progress, and I think they know that," she said. "Prioritizing is really important, because most of (the students) are working one or two jobs, they have families and they are involved in their own community. Because this is a voluntary program, they have to be internally motivated."
Domman also spoke of the motivation she sees among her students. Some of them without drivers licenses have even walked to classes at the Boys and Girls Club from downtown Casper -- during winter, she said.
Ali Amzal already speaks three languages -- French, Arabic and his native Berber. Now, the Algerian man who moved to Casper just seven months ago is well on his way to fluent English.
"Languages need to time to learn," he said. "You have to be willing. If I have that, I think I will learn. But you need to talk to people, too."
Volunteer Barbara Dobos, like many of the volunteers, is a retired high school teacher. She said she has the "teaching gene," meaning it was hard to stay away from her profession, even after retirement.
She signed up to be a tutor because it "was the right thing to do," she said.
Now, after completing a tutoring class and starting to teach, she said she's glad she chose to join the Literacy Volunteers.
"The best part is getting to know the student, getting to work with them. They help you as much as you help them," Dobos said. "It's a really great way to meet people in our community."