Getting a job takes more than an education and skills. You also have to be able to communicate with confidence.
Abdullah, 32, came to the United States from Syria in June 2016 with impressive skills: an engineering degree, significant work experience, and a high level of conversational English as well as basic English reading and grammar skills. But idioms were difficult for him to understand. “It’s raining cats and dogs.” What?!
As a result, Abdullah felt awkward and unsure when interviewing for jobs in his field.
“I needed confidence,” admitted soft-spoken Abdullah. “I needed to practice with someone who could correct my mistakes. I knew learning as much English as possible would make my assimilation into the United States easier.”
Abdullah searched the Internet for the help he needed, and he came across Literacy DuPage’s website. A few clicks and contacts later, in February 2017 he met Lia, a vibrant, 73-year-old retiree and volunteer literacy tutor.
“The beautiful thing about volunteering with Literacy DuPage is every student is different,” explained Lia. “While many of the immigrants that come through our doors barely know a word of English and are desperate to learn how to communicate with their employer or child’s teacher, Abdullah already had a strong command of the language. What he needed was more life-skill focused and insight into the nuances of English, which there are many.”
The pair hit it off immediately, and Lia incorporated several unique tools into their sessions. Because Abdullah was seeking employment, they practiced interviewing skills. To assist him with American idioms, Lia found a book that served as learning material during their tutoring sessions and also became a reference for him to use at home.
Recently, Abdullah landed a job in his field as a safety supervisor overseeing construction jobs. He obtained a certification in safety, and he’s decided to pursue a master’s degree in engineering at a local university.
“Lia is a great tutor,” said Abdullah. “But she is more than that. She is a great person who made a big difference in my life.”
In 2017, almost 500 learners received one-on-one and small group tutoring through Literacy DuPage. We need your help to continue our work. Learn how you can make a difference through Literacy DuPage.