Lead ESL Teacher
What does a typical day at Language Central look like for you?
I start the day by preparing for the classes. Each class time has students of various levels, so I try to create lessons specific to their needs and lessons that are most beneficial to them. I have volunteers for some classes and they are extremely helpful for me. I ask the students what it is they want to learn and focus on, and try to create specific lessons for each student so they can get the most out of every class. In between classes, I prepare for the next class and organize lessons and search for more ideas for the different levels of students. I want to build a classroom environment where everyone knows each other and can build relationships. I think this helps the students to be more comfortable and relaxed which helps them be more confident in themselves.
How long have you been working here?
I have been working here for a few months.
How did you discover/become a part of Language Central?
I saw an advertisement in the Northeaster looking for volunteers. I started volunteering twice a week for a couple months and then the opportunity came for me to become the Lead Instructor.
What do you like about working with Language Central?
I love traveling and meeting people from different cultures and at Language Central, I can do that without leaving my neighborhood! Everyday I get to speak with my students who are from all over the world and learn more about their culture and story. I fully support the mission of Language Central in making learning English available to everyone who needs it and wants to learn. I think everyone who works here and all of the students are genuinely sympathetic people and love to engage and learn about each other every class. The students come from very diverse backgrounds--Tibet, South America, East Africa, and Southeast Asia--and they all come together here in class and share their stories. I love watching the conversation classes when the students ask each other questions about their past and general things about their life. They love learning more about each other. I think this is a great model for how to grow stronger and better communities, if everyone from diverse backgrounds can come together to listen, respect, and get to know each other more, we all have a better understanding of where we have all come from and how we can all coexist peacefully in our community. Since we started doing conversation classes a few times a week, I have seen a major improvement in the students' speaking abilities and general comfort in class. They say hi and make small talk when they enter the classroom, and even started making jokes and being more friendly with each other.
What is your favorite memory/story of working at Language Central?
Most conversation classes end up being about food and one student said how they love cooking, so another student joked that if they ever need someone to eat all of the food that they cook, they could help! and the Student offered to cook for the whole class. So, one Thursday we were treated to an Ecuadorian feast! She walked in with so many bags and everyone immediately stood up and started to help set the classroom up and serve plates of food to the other students. It was so great to see everyone sitting together laughing, learning about different cooking styles and cooking culture. I think it is so important to see a table of people from very diverse backgrounds sit together and share a meal and just converse in a very natural setting with each other. I feel this is a model for what we as communities, cities around the world should strive for. I love seeing the students interact freely with each other without my initiating. I hope this helps them to feel more comfortable about building new relationships outside of their culture and sparks curiosity in learning about other people in the community. One of my favorite moments too is when the students start to make jokes. To me, expressing themselves in a humorous way shows a strong understanding of the language.
What do you hope to see in Language Central’s future?
I hope to see more students and see how learning English has helped them improve their daily lives. Since I have only been teaching for a short time, I have yet to see what a long time of studying can do to help them in their lives. I also hope to see more classes and more members of the Northeast neighborhood and Minneapolis be aware of what amazing things are happening here and for more people to get involved.
"The students love having free conversation classes and are very interested in getting to know each other and more about the different cultures represented in the class. Usually, the discussion ends up being about food in some way, and after one class, Narcisa from Ecuador, volunteered to cook for the class and bring in some of her favorite dishes from her home country. The students were very curious when Narcisa walked into one class carrying many bags. She brought Mote Pillo, Arroz, Estofado de Carne Molida, a special homemade sauce, and Tortillas. As all of the students helped set the tables and serve the plates, one student ran out to the Ecuadorian supermarket next door to grab some Jaritos for the class to share as well. Everyone was so thoughtful and curious and excited to try the delicious food. Food and dining culture from different countries is always fun to experience since they can vary so much. Eating together was a great way to share different customs and eating habits to help us learn more deeply about each other and our different cultures. Food creates a relaxed atmosphere to allow students to ask each other questions and have conversation in a more relaxed way. It was such a selfless gesture for her to cook for all of us, about 12 people, and share a bit of her culture and tradition. Many students never have the opportunity to try another countries food, so it was a really fun event for them to try new foods and learn about different cooking styles!"
-- Kristina Laskowski, Lead ESL Teacher and Volunteer Coordinator
We got a new laminating machine just in time for flip book production which makes Debra Trainer (office assistant) very happy as she is dubbed the "laminating queen."
The flip books are part of the package we provide with the Spanish Language Training Program designed for police officers, firefighters, and other city staff. We have been developing this particular flip book in collaboration with the Richfield Firefighters who keep them in their bags, which are taken on the site of any fire or medical emergency.
The first edition of the flip book contained medical terms and the Spanish words for body parts alongside a easy reference chart (seen above, left photo). We quickly realized that this could be more than just a study tool or a cheat sheet. It could be used when assessing medical needs. For example, we have revised the flip book to include a color-coded pain scale chart commonly used in Spanish-speaking countries (seen above, right photo). Behind the pain scale are half sheets filled with phrases used into the following scenarios/situation: