English as a Second Language (ESL)
Prince of Peace Parish is offering English as a Second Language (ESL). This program started with their sister Parish, St John Vianney. A few years ago, St. Mary joined their efforts. For their parishioners, this help is crucial because they can feel as part of this country, too. The majority of Prince of Peace's congregation are Hispanic, some very new in this country, others with more time here but with the same need: to learn the language.
My Experiences with ESL
Some years ago, when I was watching for bulletin articles asking for volunteers in church activities, I read about the need for people to tutor Hispanic people in English. This was one activity that I thought I would be capable of doing.
Although I was apprehensive about no longer remembering the Spanish I’d learned in the past and the students speaking very little English, I soon discovered that knowing Spanish really was not necessary. Somehow, the students and I always manage to reach understanding between us; although not always easily, we have a good time getting there!
Every class is a new adventure. While there are established goals for teaching, it’s amazing how the students and I will expand beyond those targets because what the students have learned leads to many more questions, opening the door to English wider. The additional questions are one aspect of the ESL experience that I enjoy the most. Many times, my students have also surprised me with their writing, pronunciation, and creativity.
Beyond the English, however, there are other exchanges between us. We will often deviate to other subjects such as family, geography, religion, social issues, and even politics! Also highly rewarding is that I have learned from the students as well – particularly in holiday customs and different methods of speech in Spanish compared to English. The classes are not all dry lessons; they are filled with plenty of humor and fun as well.
ESL has been one of the best experiences I’ve had interacting with new people, finding out that we are all not that much different from each other, -- and I’m looking forward to continuing the experience well into the future.