ESL Classes at St. Margaret's

by William "Skip" Cochran on April 8, 2017
St. Margaret's and Literacy Action have had a long history together.  For example, Bridget Farris was heavily involved in this wonderful mission during her lifetime.  Currently, Mary Waldo and I do tutoring for Literacy Action and Mary serves as the President of their Board.  More recently, St. Margaret’s extended this Outreach ministry by making the adult formation room available for the teaching of English Second Language (ESL).   Classes are conducted Monday through Wednesday mornings by me and Thursday mornings by Sarah Standridge (the coordinator of the tutoring program at Literacy Action).  A recent article in the business section of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette discussed how many of the immigrants and those who are here with spouses who have time limited work visas often have difficulty finding work or are underemployed despite having advanced education.  One barrier is their ability to speak English fluently.   As you might imagine, conversational English and the language contained in a newspaper makes frequent use of sports metaphors (Slam-Dunk), idioms that have historical origins (Beat-around-the-bush), and play-on-words.  The result is the tutor ends up not only teaching the language but also about the historical/cultural context the language is embedded in.  I have found real joy in helping people from around the world improve their English skills. Right now, we have students from China, Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, France, Jordan and Turkey (The picture is a few of those students and me). They work hard and are very motivated and I am grateful that St. Margaret’s has provided the space necessary for this wonderful ministry to take place.  Literacy Action is always looking for new tutors.  They have 3 programs:  Adult Basic Literacy, English Second Language, and a 7-week preparatory program to get a person ready to attend Pulaski Tech.  If you would be interested in this, contact Sarah Standridge at 372-7323.