“For the last couple of years, we have been involved in what we call a Reading Buddies program at Emerson Elementary and the majority of the children that we read with are children whose parents primarily speak languages other than English,” said Michael Tutterow, pastor of Heritage Baptist Church. “We’ve been doing this after-school program with kids. We just go to the library and meet with them once a week for about an hour. We give them a chance to read books to us in English. For those who aren’t quite at the level of being able to read to an adult, the adults will read and the children will follow along in the books. It’s really beginning to enhance reading skills for the children.
“Well, a couple of the parents, when they pick their kids up, have noticed this and one parent actually stays and has begun reading with one of our adults. They have indicated they have an interest in that, and as we’ve looked around the county, we recognize that they’re other speakers of languages besides English and they could use some help. So we have decided to offer some training to teach people how to teach English as a Second Language.”
To be held at Heritage Baptist, 1070 Douthit Ferry Road in Cartersville, the Georgia Baptist Literacy Missions Ministry: ESL Workshop will be conducted Oct. 10, 6 to 9:30 p.m.; Oct. 11, 6 to 9:30 p.m.; and Oct. 12, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. To receive a certificate from the North American Mission Board, participants must attend the entire 14 1/2-hour program. Individuals will need to register by Thursday to attend the workshop, which will cost $35 per participant.
According to the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Research Services ministry, within a 5-mile radius of Heritage Baptist, more than 20 different languages are spoken, with Spanish as a first language representing 355 households.
Echoing Tutterow’s comments, Heritage Baptist member Wynette Hoggard emphasized the need for another ESL program in Bartow. Like Tutterow, she also shared the story of Anna, a mother who attended the Reading Buddies program with her daughter and learned to read English with the help of a Heritage Baptist volunteer.
“[The need for an ESL program] is huge,” Hoggard said. “... [Last year] we had Anna, who came with her child to Reading Buddies and she wanted to improve her English ... so we found someone that would read with her. ... But this is not enough for her. It is meeting her immediate need but so much more could be done. Well, this year when we started, we had two other mothers who came in to look around. Their English wasn’t anywhere near capable of reading at even a children’s book [level]. In fact, we had to have an interpretor just to talk with them. ... The school has been most supportive and they tell us that adults have been coming to them [and asking], ‘When are you going to have something for adults?’
“So that tells us that the field is ripe and ready. It needs somebody to work and that’s what this workshop [training] is designed to do is to help us through volunteers learn how to teach English to someone with very little or no skills of English. They will be learning how to approach it. The rule is you first have to hear it — the English [language]. If I’m teaching you a new word and you’re German or [from another country], you have to hear [a word] and then you have to say it before you ever see it, because if you saw it first you would want to pronounce it in the same phonetics that you would your native language and that just doesn’t work.”
For more information about the ESL workshop, call Hoggard at 770-516-7574 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.