Waiting for a Tutor

Betty is waiting for a tutor.  A 25 year old Mexican woman, she is eager and hopeful to learn English and improve life for her and her family.  She has a husband and a beautiful 2-year-old son, but no other family or friends here in the United States.  After three years of living here, she is picking up some English, yet she tests as a low beginner.

She is very motivated and attempts to teach herself as much a possible, by watching English-language TV only (not Spanish).  She told me she reads books to her little boy “for the practice the mouth” (i.e. pronunciation), but she does not understand the words.  She opened her notebook to show me all the words she copies in pencil and then looks up in the Spanish-English dictionary.  She cannot write at all, except rote tasks like her name and address.  She needs to learn how to say the alphabet.  Yet through sheer determination, she was able to call me for an appointment and communicate with me if I spoke slowly.

“I want learn English so much!” she tells me with a big smile, and goes on to express her desire to help her son, find a job for herself, and interact with her community.  Like the 60+ students on our waiting list, Betty is a great reason to give your time to the Volunteer English program.

by Patricia Morgioni, Program Coordinator

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The Power of Speaking in Front of Groups

by Fred Crotchfelt, VEP Board Member and Tutor

My student Gustavo Castro is from Colombia.

Gustavo Castro and Fred Crotchfelt at the VEP Spring Fundraising Breakfast in June, 2012.

Gustavo, as with many students, was very tentative engaging in conversation when we first met.  For an immigrant, being able to engage in conversation with Americans is very important.  It is a critical part of building their confidence for day-to-day “participation in America”.  As with most immigrants, even those who have a fairly good vocabulary and generally understand English, talking in English to others can be a very frustrating experience.

The confidence students receive through our program by talking to someone (their tutor) who will not judge them or make fun of them or act like they cannot understand them, and who continually gives them positive reinforcement through words and actions, is immeasurable.

BUT . . . when a student is asked, and agrees to, speak in front of a group the confidence level increases exponentially!

That’s why, when I asked Gustavo to speak to a “new tutor” training session about his experiences and he agreed, we were taking a really BIG step to improve his confidence level.  When an international student who is just learning to string words and sentences together is able to speak English in front of a group of people it is very empowering.  It engenders confidence in being able to feel more and more a part of our society.   Gustavo did very well and he has spoken to several different groups.  Typically he is asked . . . and has to respond . . . to questions, and that creates an enriching speaking dialogue.

For many students, there are not opportunities to speak to groups.  As tutors, we should make every attempt to allow our students to speak in front of people and groups.  Working with the VEP Speakers Bureau can give you and your student these opportunities.

iGive Dog Days Sweepstakes

iGive Dog Days Sweepstakes.

Use iGive to donate to VEP everytime you shop.

First you download the free iGive button on your computer and select VEP as your benefit organization.  iGive connects to many popular online shopping websites which you may already use.  When you shop at these stores, iGive automatically gives a portion of your purchase to the Volunteer English Program.  It is easy, and it does not raise the price of your purchase.