LONGMONT, COLORADO –
It has been said that another language is to possess a second soul. For immigrants in the United States, that may be difficult to achieve, because it is often confusing to find English classes, and private lessons can be expensive.
In Colorado, a group called Exchange trains volunteers to teach English as a second language to immigrant students. The lessons take place in the classroom or where the student resides. In the process, volunteers and their “students” often form lasting friendships, building meaningful connections and a deeper soul for the entire community.
At the Community Exchange Center in Longmont, Colorado, volunteer Deepa McCauley is teaching about a dozen immigrants to talk about health in English.
“Having a fever does not mean you’re running,” he said. (in English, run a fever).
The men and women of your classroom come from several countries.
McCauley teaches English, in English. She says that this is possible because the training materials are full of illustrations and the training she received from Exchange.I have no experience in teaching, but Exchange has excellent training classes, “he said.
Exchange executive director Lee Shainis says the group developed its training materials with volunteers in mind.
In the classroom, McCauley listens attentively when his students speak, looking for ways to make their conversations more meaningful and relevant. That includes a lesson in your textbooks on mental health.
McCauley reads from the textbook: “How does it feel?” She asks.
“Depressed,” the class responds.
A student from Peru closes the textbook. She dares to say that depression can be a consequence of discrimination.
McCauley seizes the moment to create a more meaningful connection for all. Students stop writing and listen attentively to McCauley.
“Yes. Depression can be caused by discrimination, my father in India was an engineer, he came to the United States, he worked picking up cars, in the grocery store, he was depressed.”Change of life, “says a Peruvian woman.
“Great change,” replies McCauley.
The opportunity to help immigrants learn English in this way has a personal meaning for McCauley.
“One of the main reasons why I wanted to teach English is because my parents were first generation immigrants who did not speak English and had a very bad time,” he said.
The volunteer teachers and their students say that the meaningful conversations they have in their Exchange classes build lasting connections with the community.