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English as a second language
Old 01-10-2014, 12:46 PM   #1
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English as a second language

A week ago I signed on for certification as a mentor/tutor volunteer for teaching English as a second language ("ESL"]. This involves teaching a diverse group ranging from college students to professionals, under the supervision of an experienced ESL teacher. Mostly their native languages are either Mandarin, Spanish, Japanese with a smattering of others.

I'm pretty excited about this. Anyone done it?
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Old 01-10-2014, 01:01 PM   #2
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I was once a ESL student and found those classes invaluable.
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Old 01-10-2014, 01:23 PM   #3
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I did, 7 years, during high school and college. It was a very positive experience.
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Old 01-10-2014, 02:56 PM   #4
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I volunteered with my local library as a "literacy" tutor in the evenings. However, I was not given any instruction in how to teach people to read. Instead, I was assigned, one-on-one, to tutor people who could read and write in their native languages, but knew little to no English - so I ended up using picture books to teach them English words. So I was really an ESL tutor, not a literacy tutor.

This lasted about nine months, until I went on one of my many rotating shiftwork assignments, and resigned my volunteer post. I wouldn't do it again as a one-on-one thing. I think I'm too serious for it. There was obviously a "status" component among the other volunteers - bragging about what close friends they were becoming with their pupils, but saying very little about how much was actually being taught. It appeared you, as the rich American, were expected to bring your pupil little gifts, etc.

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English as a second language
Old 01-10-2014, 03:45 PM   #5
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English as a second language

I did it for about three years with a small program, a one-on-one once a week, with five different "students." It was free (funded by a small not-for-profit church group) and open to anyone. My peeps were from Mexico and some could barely read and write in their native language, as no one had more than 8 years of schooling and some less. They all had jobs and they all came early for our sessions. Most were fairly good at understanding spoken English, less so with speaking, even less at reading, and least good at writing, which is exactly opposite my skills in Spanish, rudimentary despite my college minor. It was a good experience for me, maybe less so for them .

As Amethyst mentioned in her experience, there were a couple of tutors who were very involved with their students, which amazed me--one would drive them home--not in a million years would I have done that, just in terms of liability if there were a car accident. But there are always people like that.

I think you will enjoy it, Rich, and please report back!
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Old 01-10-2014, 05:09 PM   #6
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Why do I like tutoring? Let me count the whys:
the Pride
the learners feel when they realize
they have a voice and a message to deliver;
the Confidence
the learners get
after reading their writing in public;
the Realization
that I have stopped counting
how many consecutive times the learner has pronounced
a word correctly because it is now routine;
the Surprise
when the learner ignores me and
invents a new way to pronounce a word correctly;
the Laughter
when we both realize that
a repeated violation of English grammar/pronunciation
can be corrected (and sometimes even prevented)
by a wordless microsecond- long tutor's frown;
the Delight
when a pop quiz of previously misspelled words
does not catch learner by surprise.
little steps, much effort,
yet amidst the noise
and uncertainty,
we climb slowly, but inexorably toward the stars.

try it. you'll be hooked!
better than fishing.........
................sometimes..

Rich, I hope your experience will be as rewarding . Just remember that things take time and that even though, on a day-to-day basis, it may seem like there is little progress, over a longer period, it will be obvious that the curve is sloped up and to the right...........
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Old 01-12-2014, 05:20 AM   #7
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I have an M.A. in TESL and taught it for quite awhile. I found it extremely rewarding, and I hope to do it on a volunteer basis once I retire.
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Old 01-12-2014, 12:04 PM   #8
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I have an M.A. in TESL and taught it for quite awhile. I found it extremely rewarding, and I hope to do it on a volunteer basis once I retire.
One thing I do not understand about publically funded teaching of ESL If I go to a foreign country, a rich country, a poor country or an in-between country, I am going to have to reach into my pocket to pay for lessons from a private teacher or language school. If I get good enough I can go to a university and take the normal classes that native speakers take, or at least in France or Italy go to a university for foreigners where I will have to pay my own tuition. Like Amanda Knox was doing in Perugia.

If a foreigner comes to the US, he or she gets free instruction from well trained and well paid teachers at taxpayer expense. Why is this?

Ha
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Old 01-12-2014, 12:53 PM   #9
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I paid my own tuitions to get ESL classes at a public university in the US.
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Old 01-12-2014, 01:28 PM   #10
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I paid my own tuitions to get ESL classes at a public university in the US.
I am glad that you told me this. A quick search for Free ESL class for adults turns up a lot, but in this situation you likely get what you pay for, and the other students will be higher caliber too in a self pay situation like yours. Probably the largest taxpayer outlay on free ESL comes through the public school system. We will never find out what our economic return in these dollars is, or if there even is a return. My guess is that there is a large positive return on some categories, and little or none on others.

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Old 01-12-2014, 02:05 PM   #11
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Way back in 1965, shortly after arriving in the US, my brother paid for a 4 week crash course in English for feringi. I can't remember the cost. After I got out of the Army, I put a bunch of cash on the table in front of my brother to repay the costs of getting me to the US. Airfare, bribes to hungarian officals, Eenglish lesson etc.

He refused the cash.
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Old 01-12-2014, 03:33 PM   #12
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Me, I have enough trouble with English as a first language.
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Old 01-12-2014, 03:34 PM   #13
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If a foreigner comes to the US, he or she gets free instruction from well trained and well paid teachers at taxpayer expense. Why is this?
I will be working on a voluntary and uncompensated basis.

I think that immigrants contribute a great deal more to their work communities and personal fulfillment the better their English skills, based on extensive personal experience in practice and personal settings. Immigration causes instant illiteracy for many.

At least in health care, visits with non-English-speaking patients take nearly double the time it takes to see comparable patients or workers with weak English skills (or waiting 30 - 60 minutes for an overworked professional interpreter). ESL [taxpayer supported] money seems well spent.
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Old 01-12-2014, 04:22 PM   #14
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I tutored several immigrants over a period of many years. The entire program was run on a volunteer basis. Tutors even had to pay a small sum for the books we used and for mandatory training. It was a rewarding but occasionally frustrating experience when students wouldn't show up or hadn't done their homework.

The student I had for the longest period of time was a woman in her 60s from South America. Although she had lived in the US for many years, she lived and worked entirely in a Spanish-speaking environment. She would occasionally bring documents she needed help with. One day, she brought a jury duty summons she had received. I was astonished because I had assumed that she was not a legal immigrant. (The literacy organization which sponsored the program did not ask about immigrant status.) I asked her if she was an American citizen. She said yes. She then proceeded to tell me, in Spanish, a convoluted story of how she had legally immigrated many years before with the help of a member of Congress.

I phoned the local court system and explained that there was no way this woman could serve effectively on a jury due to her poor English skills. After some convincing, she was excused from jury duty.

I had another student who was in his mid-20s and had picked up conversational English fairly quickly. His native language, however, was written in a different alphabet and he asked specifically for help in learning to spell in English. For example, he wanted to learn how to write out numbers in English so he could write checks.
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Old 01-12-2014, 05:02 PM   #15
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...

At least in health care, visits with non-English-speaking patients take nearly double the time it takes to see comparable patients or workers with weak English skills (or waiting 30 - 60 minutes for an overworked professional interpreter). ESL [taxpayer supported] money seems well spent.
I don't think haha was questioning the importance of learning the local language if you want to be a contributing member of that society. I think he was questioning why taxpayers should fund those lessons, instead of the immigrant.

To turn the tables, I can't imagine deciding to take up residence in Italy, and then expecting the Italian government to pay for Italian lessons for me. I would expect that to be my responsibility.

-ERD50
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Old 01-12-2014, 05:13 PM   #16
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I would love to be able to do this type of thing. However, I'd probably throw out too many y'alls, gits, and sugahs.

Kudos to everyone sharing their time and knowledge.
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Old 01-12-2014, 05:43 PM   #17
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I would have to agree with ERD50 AND ha
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Old 01-12-2014, 06:56 PM   #18
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Many years ago I spent 3 years in the US doing some postgraduate training. While I had grown up in Ireland (the land of Yeats and Heaney) and had spoken and written English since uttering my first words, had been reading since age 3, had won a national essay competition in secondary school, and had passed all the US professional exams in English, I was obliged to take, at my own expense, an examination called TOEFL (test of English as a foreign language). It was a three hour multiple choice exam with aural and written questions. It was, if course, very easy for me to pass this exam. But there were people from non-English-speaking countries there who looked clearly flummoxed at the colloquial syntax being tested. I think they had not watched enough Hollywood movies. I suspect their understanding of complex linguistic situations would have been questionable.
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:16 PM   #19
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No taxpayer money was involved in the ESL tutoring program I was involved with.
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:23 PM   #20
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Many years ago I spent 3 years in the US doing some postgraduate training. While I had grown up in Ireland (the land of Yeats and Heaney) and had spoken and written English since uttering my first words, had been reading since age 3, had won a national essay competition in secondary school, and had passed all the US professional exams in English, I was obliged to take, at my own expense, an examination called TOEFL (test of English as a foreign language). It was a three hour multiple choice exam with aural and written questions. It was, if course, very easy for me to pass this exam. But there were people from non-English-speaking countries there who looked clearly flummoxed at the colloquial syntax being tested. I think they had not watched enough Hollywood movies. I suspect their understanding of complex linguistic situations would have been questionable.
Interesting that Ireland was not considered an English-speaking country.

Regarding TOEFL, I also took that test 3 or 4 months after arriving in the US nearly 40 years ago. I am proud to say my score for the 1st and only test was high enough for graduate school admission, though I was an undergraduate. The several prior years of studying English helped, although I was not really fluent in the spoken language (but spent a lot of time learning to write grammatically correctly). I did not have exposure to native English speakers.

One of my learning aids to learn conversational English: Sesame Street morning show. I could not quite follow the evening news. They spoke too fast and about subjects that were foreign to me. By the way, it took me some more years to learn to appreciate American humor.
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