Friends of the Library: ESL programs
We’ve had a literacy program at the Truckee Library for many years. As past volunteers have discovered, though, people with reading problems don’t naturally gravitate to the library. The printed word has become an enemy, and any contact with it can bring back painful and humiliating memories.
The Hispanic population in Truckee, however, has discovered the ESL part of the literacy program. Currently the Library is serving over 40 persons through the efforts of 17 active tutors. The tutors, who have attended training sessions sponsored by the Nevada County Library Literacy Program, help individuals and small groups increase their proficiency in English speaking, reading and writing.
Hispanics in Truckee have proved to be eager and motivated, and range in educational levels from first grade to college graduate. One learner said that many Mexicans graduate from college in Mexico, but they can’t find jobs; so they migrate to the United States, accepting menial labor because they can’t speak English.
Imagine how difficult and frustrating this must be for someone who is educated and wants to live the good life available to everyone in this country. One young married couple who recently joined family members in Truckee, attended college in Mexico but must work in service or construction jobs because of their lack of English skills. The courage and stamina of our Mexican neighbors is astonishing to see.
One learner works as a janitor in a local school, but holds a degree in forestry. He is working with a library tutor to improve his writing skills, hoping to snag a job in the Department of Forestry. His wife also joins these sessions to improve her English writing skills. Both have lived in Truckee for many years, their children attending Truckee schools.
The more fluent English speakers have made the tremendous cultural and intellectual leap of entering Sierra College. Many are enrolled in the computer and English writing classes there to improve their job prospects and to become more independent. Some are day care providers seeking certification.
The dilemma for the Truckee literacy program is not the lack of eager students, but a dearth of volunteer tutors who have the language skills to work with Hispanics. Such work proves to be daunting at first as a new tutor takes his or her first tentative steps into a different cultural space to face the challenges of teaching. After those first few lessons, though, many of our tutors find their learners are charming, warm and willing to learn and work hard, even after putting in a full day on the job.
In the end, the cultural chasm that divides the Hispanic and Anglo communities in Truckee doesn’t appear so wide after all. If you’d like to join our tutors at the Truckee Library, call 582-7846.
— Friends of the Library Annual Used Book Sale, Saturday, Aug. 4, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Used books may be donated through Aug. 3. Volunteers are needed to help with the sale; sign up at the library.
— Children’s Summer Reading Program:
For ages 5 and up. Sign up anytime, weekly programs begin July 12.
— Teen Summer Film Series: For ages 11 and up. Begins July 12
(Friday and Saturday Storytimes are taking a break)
— Tuesday Morning Toddler Time, for ages 2-3, 10:30 at the Library
— Babes in Bookland, a lap-sit reading program for ages 6 to 24 months, Wednesdays, 10 and 11 a.m.
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