Since January of 2011, students in the MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program have been offering free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at the Peace Resource Center in Seaside, California. We have put our TESOL curriculum design skills into action, helping local non-native English speakers build their communication skills so that they in turn become more empowered as individuals and community members.
Deadline: Oct 05, 2012
Total needed: $2,000
Program Coordinator: Ariana Van Beurden
The idea was simple: pre-service and in-service teachers enrolled in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) offering free ESL classes at the Peace Resource Center in Seaside, California. The Peace Resource Center is a community center that is open to the public and provides space for meetings, gatherings, and, as a result of continued student involvement, 12 hours of free ESL classes per week. Before 2011, the Center offered a free weekly course under the guidance of Ms. Stefani Mistretta, an ESL teacher and MIIS employee. In January of 2011, she included Heidi Laidemitt who later informed her colleagues about offering additional classes.
As the Spring 2011 semester commenced, other TESOL students began teaching at the Peace Resource Center as well as began to contextualize their TESOL courses by choosing the Center as a site of teaching, pedagogy, lesson plans, observation, and other class projects. Their roles have included: teachers, teaching assistants, program coordinators, and general volunteers. The community-created ESL experience has been mutually beneficial for teachers and students, where both parties are able to interact and fulfill personal and professional needs.
The students in the ESL program come from a variety of backgrounds; some have been here for a few months and others for most of their lives. But their mission is the same: to learn English to enhance their lives for personal and professional reasons. We have had adolescents, adults, and senior citizens attend our classes on a regular basis in hopes of finding a job, advancing their careers, learning about local resources and events, earning a GED, supplementing their community college education, or making friends with an English speaking neighbor. Currently, all of the ESL students are native Spanish speakers, which complements the large Spanish speaking population at MIIS as well. As a result, bilingual potluck hours and movie nights have been offered to engage the students in the larger Monterey and Seaside community outside of their English instruction.
The ESL program has received a groundswell of support and participation from the various stakeholders involved: English language learners, English language teachers, the Peace Resource Center’s Board of Directors, MIIS students, the MIIS faculty, and Monterey County members and organizations like the Seaside Library where Bilingual Beginning Computing classes are also taught. The program is completely student-run with the support of the Peace Resource Center’s volunteers and Board of Directors. Due to the increasing interest from the community and possible need for more hours and space in the future, the program has come to the point where expansion, both in space and personnel, has become the primary need.
We invite you to join us in this community learning opportunity to support our programmatic needs and long-term goals. Contributions to our program not only enrich the lives of the ESL students, but also the MIIS graduates and the Monterey community. Our current financial needs include providing teachers with gas and/or public transportation money; buying classroom materials like dictionaries, marker boards, dry erase markers, index cards, dividers, etc; and for hosting events like the “Bilingual Conversation and Potluck Hour” and movie nights. Additionally, we would like to contribute to the rent and utilities at the Peace Resource Center as well as possibly find additional space to hold our classes, especially since the space is small and is shared by many local Monterey groups.
We are eager to begin 2012 after a full-year of ESL classes, program advancement, and TESOL course application to create an even better teaching and learning environment. Currently, TESOL students of all semesters are involved, an indication that this program has strong roots and a promising future. We hope you are as excited as we are to see how much more this program will grow with time.