By BONNIE BAILEY
If you are looking to improve your English language skills, Learn English TriCities, held weekly at the Jonesborough Senior Center, may be the class for you.
“The class is open to any adult who is interested in becoming more proficient in using English as a second language,” said Beth Anderson, a volunteer teacher for Learn English Tri-Cities.
The conversational class, which welcomes all levels of learners, takes place on Tuesday nights from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The atmosphere of the class is designed to be non-threatening and safe, according to Anderson.
“Participants can talk freely or not,” Anderson said. “Most are eager to practice their English skills. We try to get a feel for the comfort level of our students and draw them into the conversation without pressure.”
Anderson has a degree in Elementary Education from East Tennessee State University, and she has been teaching English as a second language for a little over year.
The classes are structured to include reading, writing, and communication, usually based around a relative theme, she said.
“In asking the students what they feel would help them, overwhelmingly they express the need to feel more confident in speaking the language,” Anderson said. “Therefore, we spend a lot of time talking among the students.”
Students are not required to purchase a workbook or textbook for the free class. Any materials necessary for participation are provided.
However, some students did choose to purchase workbooks to use on their own, she said.
“My students actually asked for practice work in grammar and basic sentence structure,” Anderson said.
According to Anderson, the class has drawn interest from students with a variety of backgrounds.
“In addition to students from Spanish-speaking countries, we have also had students from Russia, Ukraine, China and Vietnam,” she said.
Anderson said she has enjoyed meeting students from the growing community of international people who have settled in the area.
“Some of the students have been here for many years while others have been here only a short time. In the short time the class has been in existence, new friendships have developed,” she said. “There seems to be a feeling of community as the students help each other and are extremely inclusive.”
Anderson said she would love to have more volunteers to help with the class so she could offer more individualized instruction.
“We need volunteers who will come and work with the students,” Anderson said. “You do not have to speak a foreign language — in fact, I am told it is an advantage that I only speak English!”
Volunteering with Learn English Tri-Cities is a great way to learn about other cultures, she said, and it is great way for seniors to stay active.
“As a senior, I am excited to use my skills to continue to help people who have an expressed need to learn English,” she said.
For more information on becoming a student or volunteering, visit the Learn English Tri-Cities Facebook page, email [email protected] or call Beth Anderson at (423) 360-1378.