where we began

I have a new volunteer job today!

A while ago I shared with PP’s teacher that I could be a tutor for any students in her class whose English is a second language. Apparently she does have a few ELD (English Language Development, formerly known as ESL) students but they are proficient enough to follow instructions in English; therefore she hasn’t tapped into my help yet. Until last week when a new student who just recently arrived from Egypt coming into her class with little to no English proficiency at all that she thought of my offer.

Today was our first day. I spent an hour with the kid to assess his understanding of spoken English, reading and phonic recognition level. He is a bright kid from the onset, and picked things up quickly. At this age, I have no doubt he will gain necessary skills in no time to reach basic proficiency.

So now twice a week, Monday and Wednesday, I will be his ELD tutor, giving him one-on-one interaction so that he can get up his speed with the most basic letter and sound recognitions. If he needs more help, I will volunteer thrice a week.

I don’t know exactly why, but I am excited to volunteer and help this student. I think mostly because I was once like him, at the age of 13, and spoke very little English upon coming to the U.S. from the refugee camp. I see myself, and the struggles that I had, and I want to lessen this student’s struggles and guide him through the web of learning a second language, at least at this early stage.

This morning, when I left the classroom and walked back to my car, I thought of my ESL teachers, Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Smith, and how grateful I was, and still am, to have them as my guidance those early days when I really needed it.

(And I am also grateful to Danielle Steel for writing those hopeless cheap-thrill romantic books for me to garner my vocabulary back in the days when we had no TV or iPhone or iPad and the internet!)


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