Being afraid to speak English is common for many Literacy DuPage students.
Adult Basic Education (ABE) student Gosia was troubled when she was told that her spoken English was difficult to understand, even though she had high proficiency in English. She enrolled in English classes, but they didn’t correct her pronunciation or increase her vocabulary. Then, in 2018, she heard about Literacy DuPage from a friend and immediately enrolled in the program. Literacy DuPage matched Gosia with tutor Dave in 2019, and the two have been working together ever since.
Literacy DuPage is Dave’s first English tutoring experience; however, he has trained others throughout his long fundraising career. Dave entered new tutor training with Literacy DuPage in 2019 and found the training informative and immediately transferable to tutoring sessions. He also enjoyed learning about other new tutors and students.
Dave and Gosia began working together in person at the local library. When COVID hit, given the pair’s comfort with technology, they seamlessly switched over to WhatsApp and continued tutoring.
“I am making an impact and helping someone achieve her goals,” Tutor Dave shared.
Tutoring centered on what’s happening in Gosia’s life
Initially, Dave and Gosia concentrated on correcting her grammar and pronunciation, as well as increasing her vocabulary, with a variety of reading materials. Dave encouraged Gosia to write down difficult words or terminology that she came across in her homework or everyday life. Then, they would begin their next lesson by going over those words.
Tutoring opened Dave’s eyes to the many idiosyncrasies that occur in the English language. Additionally, Dave is learning Spanish, which has increased his awareness of accents and has helped him identify what sounds may be easier or more difficult for Gosia. To help navigate the English language, Dave teaches Gosia base words, which she can then use when she hears new vocabulary. For example, Gosia knew what the word “cycle” meant, and when she encountered the word “bicycle,” she understood that it had to do with rotation.
They also had fun in their tutoring sessions. For example, Gosia was interested in learning about the stock market and the 2020 election. Dave researched those topics and found articles at Gosia’s reading level. It was entertaining for him, and Gosia had a blast learning.
“Dave is not just a tutor, but a friend. Throughout the pandemic, he lifted me up,” said Student Gosia.
Gosia has learned a great deal about American culture from Dave. Through tutoring, Gosia feels more secure and confident navigating different situations in the United States. For example, she used to find emergency rooms scary and stressful. But after talking with Dave and reading different articles, she no longer is afraid to visit the emergency room, if she or a family member ever needs to. Additionally, tutoring has helped Gosia at work. She now can communicate better with her employer. She feels that she uses the English language more effectively, allowing her to speak more openly.