Poor English-language skills can increase isolation
Not knowing English in America can cause a learner to feel lonely and detached. For Literacy DuPage learner Soyoung, not being able to interact in her community left her with feelings of depression. Then she heard about Literacy DuPage from a friend, and she was excited for the opportunity to overcome her English-language struggles.
In 2019, Soyoung was matched with tutor Kim, and they’ve been working together ever since. After retirement, Kim was looking for a volunteer opportunity, and she felt Literacy DuPage’s mission was a good fit for her. After she completed training, she was delighted to be paired with Soyoung and able to help out.
To begin, Soyoung and Kim identified three goals that they wanted to work toward in their tutoring sessions.
- Improve Soyoung’s fluency in English. Soyoung wanted to speak confidently with neighbors and her children’s teachers and to feel more comfortable in the community.
- Assist Soyoung with increasing her art vocabulary. Soyoung is an artist, and she wanted to be more at ease teaching art at the local art center to all children, not only to kids who speak Korean.
- Achieve U.S. citizenship. While Soyoung treasures her Korean culture and heritage, she appreciates the opportunities in the United States and is proud to have become a citizen of her adopted country.
Around the time Kim and Soyoung began to work toward passing the citizenship exam, Literacy DuPage offered an immigration and naturalization workshop. Kim attended, and she put to use what she learned to better help Soyoung. As they prepared for the exam, they discovered that it was also an excellent opportunity to discuss American history and government. Even Soyoung’s children helped by practicing flashcards with their mom!
When they first began tutoring, Soyoung and Kim were able to meet at the library in person for sessions. But when COVID-19 hit, libraries closed and ended in-person gatherings. Fortunately, moving to a virtual platform didn’t hinder their work and exam preparation. Kim and Soyoung continued sessions via FaceTime and then transitioned to Zoom.
Soyoung passed the U.S. citizenship exam and recently naturalized!
Soyoung became a U.S. citizen in late March 2021! Kim and Soyoung’s family are very proud of her (Literacy DuPage is, too!). Soyoung’s children saw her dedication to becoming a citizen, including all of the time and focus that she spent studying to achieve her dream of U.S. citizenship. Soyoung is deeply appreciative of Kim’s encouragement, leadership, and consistency.
Soyoung now plans to further her career as an artist. She has been making great use of the pandemic downtime and painting beautiful works of art.
The tutor-learner relationship
Through their tutoring sessions, Soyoung has achieved significant improvement in her English-speaking skills and comprehension. Her confidence has greatly increased, and she can interact outside of her Korean circle.
Through tutoring, Kim has learned about Korean culture, the immigrant experience, and the hardships that go along with it. Kim says, “Soyoung has been very fun to work with, and I encourage anyone to become a tutor. It is a wonderful experience.”