Written by Nicole Powers, Education & Homework Support Assistant, Downtown Main Library
Prior to the pandemic, we had a great group of dedicated English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students who regularly attended the ESOL for Everyone group in the Adult Learning Center. Its foundation was so strong, and the camaraderie we had was so genuine, that it made the transition to Zoom easy during the second week of Ohio's stay-at-home order.
Not only has our group maintained its loyal following, but we have also been able to increase the number of folks joining us from across the country and around the world. We have students joining us from Brazil, Japan, and China, as well as right here in Hamilton County. Talk about a silver lining!
Like many positions here at the library, conducting ESOL classes is mutually beneficial for our staff and customers. We get to enter into the lives of people who don’t speak English as their first language as they learn the rules and rhythms of the language. We get to meet their families, share their cultures, and become great friends. Not a bad gig in this big, gnarly world.
Something for Everyone
Every class has a different theme with a new series of questions to discuss. Our students never disappoint, bringing a new perspective with varying viewpoints. For them, learning English helps open doors from business and travel to starting a new life in a new country. The pandemic has been hard enough on everyone but being from another country brings about its own complications and challenges.
"Through my ESOL classes, I have learned to make an opinion on every topic we discuss," said Irina M. who hails from Ukraine. "I’ve learned to listen to Nicole and the other students. I’m still learning how to adapt my thoughts to English, not just translate them. I feel I have really improved and my husband agrees!"
This year we won’t be able to have our annual ESOL Thanksgiving in person but we know we have much to be thankful for. We plan to share our favorite recipes from our respective countries and make a toast to all the wonderful relationships we have formed. I think we can all raise a glass to that.
The Adult Learning Center is holding its Preparing for U.S. Citizenship classes in 2021 starting Jan. 13. The 10-week class explores the requirements for and procedures to become a U.S. citizen. Classwork consists of reading assignments, quizzes and videos. We have a virtual class each week (Zoom) that covers the materials and provides additional instruction.