A bilingual edition of The Cat in the Hat makes a fine adult textbook in an evening ESL class at the Reformed Church of Linden. Tables in the room are pushed together to make one large table. The students each stand to read five pages aloud, as their co-learners call out pronunciation assistance and applaud. Then two church members, Pat and Eric Seeburgh, each take a turn for 5 pages, reading in Spanish, instantly making the other students into teachers who give encouragement and correct their pronunciations. The class shares in struggle and in triumph, neighbors learning English and church members learning Spanish.
It works. A first group has graduated from the beginner class and now forms the intermediate class, as another beginners’ class is organized. Pastor Wilfredo Rodriguez attends each Tuesday evening, cheering on the learners by name. The teacher, church member Orlando Ramos, takes the class through a set of vocabulary words on flash cards, checks pages in workbooks, and gives an in-class assignment to write a paragraph on how you spent the weekend. The students write, confer with each other, and soon go around the table, standing to read their essay. At each meeting Ramos conducts 3 or 4 activities in each of four focus areas: Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing; but informally this ESL class also teaches its students public speaking, leadership, and that the church is here to serve their needs.
The Reformed Church of Linden provides the materials, the space, and the care for their motivated neighbors, mothers and fathers who were born in Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia. Classis New Brunswick Community Development Corp applauds this church’s initiative and is looking for grant opportunities that could provide support to their efforts.