Our First English Class for Adults – What Do You Want To Learn?

Everyone in Santa Cruz works hard, so it wasn’t easy to find a time for our 3-week English class for adults. But we finally settled on 4:00 – 5:30 pm, Monday through Thursday afternoons, and invited a lively, motivated group of six students to join us:

Juan, Juana and Rosalea look for words to describe families

CECAP’s staff: Rosalia Hernandez Pérez, administrative assistant and law student; Noë Raphael, director; and Juan Pérez, who heads up the computer lab and attends university in Quetzaltenango. Lucas Sajcuy, is a 3rd year law student and is a guardian (property caretaker); Juana Hernandez, has finished secretarial school and works at Villa Sumaya; and Guadalupe, the medical center’s nurse and women’s health educator.

We (Linda Fry, Patricia Vogel, Susan Webber, Elizabeth Stauder and I) wanted to find out what these students already knew and what they wanted to learn, so we began with introductions that included our favorite food. It’s a testament to how small the world is becoming, that lasagna, falafel, spaghetti and chocolate brownies beat out tamales—by a long shot.

The "small world" comes to Santa Cruz by boat and pickup truck

And to the question, what do you want to learn in this 3-week class, everyone agreed that they wanted to speak in English about their families, by which they meant their community, to outsiders. They wanted to learn to read and write English more easily, to master the verb TO BE, and to get the ABC’s down cold.

Lucas, Noë and Elizabeth find words that begin with "J"

So, to see how well they could speak and write, we told a chain story, beginning with “We went to Africa…,” to hear how students used the past tense, in which each person repeated the sentence of the person before and added a sentence. We wrote the sentences down and compared with each other to see if we wrote the same thing. Linda wrote them on the board for us, and we corrected our own work.

We did some pretty funny things in Africa.

And finally, we learned to sing the very same ABC song you probably learned in kindergarten, first pointing to the letters on cards and saying them aloud many times. What a wonderful way to practice those most difficult letters, i and h and j—and the difference between b and v. We were all in it together, singing away, when 5:30 came–too soon, really, on this very first day.

One comment

  1. Kathleen Henry says:

    Dear Friends:

    This is very exciting. I look forward to following along whenever you can tell about your classes. For those who know me, I complete my work in Mattapoisett, Ma. at the end of March. I hope to begin studying Spanish and currently tutor adult students for whom English is their second language. Perhaps I will be able to join your work in times to come. I am reminded by your approach of the work of Sylvia Ashton Warner with Maori children many years ago. She began with the words and stories that were important to them. That is how they learned to read.

    Thank you to all who are partnered in this endeavor.

    Kathy Henry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *