Tuesday, February 20, 2007


a sister's hope

For the past month or so I've been tutoring ESL students...only once a week, but I've developed a sort of relationship with two of the students. G and Ed are sister and brother. G has been in the United States since 1981 (as I learned tonight), and Ed arrived in the United States about four weeks ago.

Even though G has been here for 25 years, and Ed has been here for three weeks, they're pretty close to each other in terms of English levels. G is a bit more advanced, but Ed has the potential to surpass her soon, because he's completed college in El Salvador, where he was a computer teacher. I was amazed at how quickly he was picking it all up, and his questions really astounded me - in his third week of English, he was asking me when the vowels were pronounced with a long sound or a short sound - for example, movie vs. mom vs. moment. Crikey.

The first couple of times I worked with G as Ed sat to the side, listening. The third week, G told me that it was her brother's turn, and we worked on his book. I realized that there were some words and concepts that were mutually not known/understood, so I decided to work on those things.

Last week we were going over the parts of the face, and other body parts, and the good ole' standby of "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" came to me. So we stood up, and sang the song, and acted it out. I began the song not remembering how it went, but then "eyes, and ears, and mouth, and nose" came back to me. It was really fun, and I left with the great feeling that they were learning English, and that I was doing something useful for them.

This week G showed up alone, and she told me that Ed had gotten a job - cleaning, at night - so he wouldn't be coming to class anymore. She was clearly distraught, and she opened up to me, in her broken English, saying that she was afraid that her brother would keep working, and never learn English, and follow the track of her life. She said that he had the education, and was smart, and if he just stuck with his classes, he'd be able to avoid what she was going through; he'd be able to get a job as a bilingual computer teacher. She said that she only makes $10 an hour (and for as long as she doesn't know English, that's as much as she'll make), and that gives her a little over a $1,000 a month, and rent is $800. Her daughter, who has a daughter, is 23 and has two more semesters of college...she said that her daughter has to finish college, that it was the most important thing that she could ever do for her life.

I don't know what it was that made G sign up for these classes, but I really hope and pray that it gives her the tools to chase and attain her still-living, still-possible American dream.

My old roommate ran a program for high school aged hispanic kids and she'd have all this information on their parents and it never failed to amaze me how they'd make it for families of four, five, six on such a low income.

There are many opportunities to learn English as you obviously know, but they have to take them.

I hope it works out for both G and Ed.
I used to give lessons as well and once they got good enough (this group was japanese) I brought over some tapes of friends and we were able to discuss the episode- it was fun!!!
I really do hape they make it- knowledge is power- so power to them and keep up the good work!!!
It's sad that people struggle in life do to language barriers... however, I find it even more sad that they're forced to migrate from their home country because they have no chance for the "sueno Americano" there.
Meg, we misssssssss you! Blog for us again! Please....?
where did you go?
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?