“I Can Read Presidential History Books”

February 14, 2018 at 9:22 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In anticipation of President’s Day, this week we revisit Alejandrina’s essay from 2014. Alejandrina takes us along her English language learning journey to her newfound connection to history and civic engagement. LCNV’s curriculum contains elements of American customs, holidays, and cultures, all of which can pique the interest of learners and inspire them to explore further. Alejandrina is a perfect example of a learner who has been empowered with English literacy to engage with American history and current affairs!

“My best experiences in America are developing my English skills for a better job and progressing.

English is most important to me as a second language for a successful life now and the future. English is not easy to learn fast, because the pronunciation, reading and writing are difficult.

The first time I took an English class in Northern Virginia community college, the teacher gave us a grammar book, and then she started reading the book. I didn’t understand anything at all. At that moment, I think I was in the moon. I felt so bad. I was in the wrong room. That class was higher level.

I took a basic English class in Thomas Jefferson school in Arlington, where I studied very hard and I learned a lot. I couldn’t continue because I moved to Falls Church.

I found the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, where I took English class many times and I have improved tremendously. Before, I couldn’t read. Now I can read books like presidential history books: Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, newspapers, and children’s books. Before, I couldn’t write, but now I can write complaint letters. I love to write letters to the President, Senators, Congress.

Before, I couldn’t speak. Now I can communicate with people.”


“There Are Many Opportunities”

February 7, 2018 at 9:40 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LCNV’s spring classes are off to a great start, with many new and returning learners joining us to improve their English. Every learner has their own story of why they came to the United States and why they are studying English. Each story is unique and rich in its own way. Maria’s 2014 essay alludes to some of the difficulties new, non-English speaking immigrants face in the United States. However, Maria’s story also points to the possibilities that arise through studying English. All of us at LCNV are proud to become a part of these learners’ stories. You too can become a part of their story when you donate or volunteer with LCNV!

“I am from Mexico. In my country, I worked at my brother’s store and helped at the cash register. I really enjoyed going to the church and also going to the parties. I used go to the town to buy clothes and everything else I needed. My experience in America is difficult because my family lives in another country and I speak very little English. It is very different around here.

But now I have friends in this country and America is a beautiful country. I think there are many opportunities to progress here. I can drive a car and I can study English.”

“I Feel Better”

January 31, 2018 at 8:38 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

El Mehdi’s 2015 essay reminds us of the many common issues our learners share. This piece in particular emphasizes the vital, sometimes lifesaving significance of knowing English. Health literacy is an important part of managing illnesses and staying healthy, something that El Mehdi knows well. At the end of his essay, El Mehdi mentions his heart condition that requires him to avoid salt. With English, he can clearly communicate this in restaurants, keeping him safe.

“I can talk to my customers. My supervisor used to criticize me because I didn’t speak good English. I wanted to do better. Now, I can talk to my neighbors. I can talk to the nurse in the Doctor’s office. I can explain my situation at work. I feel better. I can go to restaurant and order my food–I have a heart condition, and I need to eat food with no salt.”

“I Would Like to Thank My Teachers”

January 24, 2018 at 8:05 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

About a quarter of LCNV’s learners have had 12 or more years of education prior to enrolling in our programs. These highly educated learners who received all of their schooling in a language other in English face a language barrier that holds them back from contributing to the community and the workforce at their skill level. LCNV learner Wajai studied at a university in Afghanistan. Her move to the United States meant that she had to relearn how to communicate. Wajai describes the value of a shift from Dari to English for everyday communication in her essay below. The immense talent of new immigrants can be unlocked with English.

Does someone you know need English to get ahead? LCNV’s FINAL sign-up opportunity for spring classes is on February 3. Call 703-237-0866 for more information.

“My mother tongue is Dari and I finished school and university in Dari language – back in Afghanistan.

When I moved to America to start living here I encountered problems and changes as a result of not knowing English. I decided that learning English is important so [that] in the future I can help my children, find a good job, and serve my family and community. I would like to thank my teachers for their support.”

“Learning English”

January 17, 2018 at 9:28 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LCNV learner Luc has been a part of our community for 3 semesters, initially studying in a Beginning-level English Class, then moving onto LCNV’s Skills-based Writing Class. Luc’s growing mastery of English is apparent in his 2017 essay, in which he makes the case for the importance of learning English. Luc’s progress is one example of the advancement our learners can make with the right balance of motivation and a strong academic program. If someone you know wants to make progress in learning English, visit www.lcnv.org for class sign-up times and more information.

“Learning English is very useful for everyone living in America. First, because it is a determining factor of social and professional integration. So our daily activities like get a taxi, drive a car, go shopping, or make an appointment demand the English knowledge. Then, thanks to the English language, people can get a good job and be able to safeguard it. Finally, English can help people to communicate and use the computer better. In conclusion, everyone should learn English.”

English Around the World

January 10, 2018 at 8:00 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Many of LCNV’s learners take classes to learn, understand and thrive in their new home in the United States. For LCNV learner Jose, English was a means to understand his temporary residence. Jose came to the United States for one year in 2015 for his child’s education, after which he returned to Spain. With his newfound knowledge of English and the experience he had at LCNV, Jose and his family found a wonderful community in the United States. Thanks to LCNV, Jose can now converse in English throughout the world!

“I and my family have come to America so our child could study during a school year in this country. During this time, we are also studying English and meeting new people.

We have been very lucky because all the people we know are helping us a lot and very kindly help make easy what we find difficult.

For this reason, now that the time is coming for us to go back to Spain, a feeling of homesickness is starting to emerge for the U.S. and for the people we have met here.”

Hope in the New Year

January 3, 2018 at 8:00 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

With the start of the New Year and the beginning of spring class registration today, possibility fills the air at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia. Every LCNV learner who arrives to sign up for classes brings with them different dreams and aspirations. LCNV learner Hau wrote this 2015 essay sharing his desires for the future. He closes the essay writing that he is “dreaming about a full-time job”. Hau has since become employed full-time, and is continuing to work towards achieving his other dreams!

Help learners like Hau start 2018 on the right foot. Please donate today.

“I hope to get a better job when I have contact with everybody, I hope they understand me. My dream for my future is to retire. I will go to travel once a year to my favorite places. Someday I hope to make a lot of money. I will buy a new house. Since coming to this country I have been dreaming about a full-time job.”

A New Year’s Day Celebration

December 27, 2017 at 8:00 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LCNV’s learners come from over 90 different countries, and bring the holiday traditions of their cultures with them to the United States. In LCNV learner Kim’s 2012 essay, she describes the celebration of the Korean New Year’s Day on January 1 of each year. Kim describes the traditional clothing, gifts, and dancing, as well as games and other traditions. Kim even describes some of the mouthwatering food that is typically served on this holiday! Kim’s essay highlights another side of why English literacy is so important – she can share her culture with English speakers from different backgrounds, while learning more about traditions from around the world.

If you’d like to help beginning-level English learners like Kim in the New Year, please consider donating to LCNV.

“I want to celebrate Korean New Year’s Day. The oriental calendar begins on January 1, that day we celebrate Korean New Year’s Day. This celebration comes from a long history of families meeting together like American families get together at Thanksgiving.

The children wear new Korean traditional dress, they bow to their elders. The adults give some money to the children. They call the money (a New Year’s greeting).

We eat some special traditional food, rice cake soup, many different kinds of vegetables, and a special fish! Normally we don’t eat this kind of food every day. Tastes ummm!

The men play a game called Mah-jong. Young ladies, with braided hair and Korean dress, hold hands and make a big circle and skip around the circle to dance. The name is kang kang-sutlet. It is a really cool dance. Every Korean family is happy with getting together for this celebration.”

“My Celebration”

December 20, 2017 at 8:11 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The holiday season at LCNV is the perfect time to revisit holiday stories that our learners have shared with us over the years. LCNV learner Miriam’s essay about her experience getting familiar with U.S.’ celebratory traditions and her 2011 Christmas experience shows the ways in which family, holidays, and English language can mingle to make for a truly memorable celebration. If you know someone like Miriam who needs beginning-level English classes, share LCNV’s spring schedule with them. The opportunity to learn English could be the best gift you give this holiday season.

“My name is Miriam. I am from Peru. I have lived in the United States 6 years. I want to share with you a few celebrations from my life.

The first celebration I had I remember was when I was already big. It was my first commu­nion. I was 14 years old when I made my first communion. I felt shy because all the people were talking about me. They said I looked like a bride. I didn’t like these comments. Really I didn’t know what to say because I am from a family that is not accustomed to having cel­ebrations. This celebration was okay for me because I could not ask for something that I was not very familiar with.

The second celebration I had was here in the United States. My employers celebrated my birthday. The girls took pictures. They said, ‘Why don’t you smile Miriam?’ I felt very shy because I’m not accustomed to celebrating my birthday and being the center of attention. I wanted the party to finish quickly. But, I was very happy because people who are not my family celebrated my birth­day. At the same time I was sad because I never celebrated my birthday with my family.

But, last year, in 2011, I celebrated, for the first time, a Christmas I had always wished for, on December 25, together, with my family! Everything that I learned in these six long years, of the concept of celebrating, I put into practice with my family who are the most important people in my life. We waited together, for the night in which Jesus was born, with beautiful Christmas carols, and gifts for every one of us. I could feel by observing each and every one of their looks, a great joy of happiness and at the same time a lot of peacefulness that maybe my family had never experienced before. And finally we shared a peaceful dinner. Now for me Christmas means get­ting together peace, love and family. That day was the best celebration that I had ever had. I felt so happy and fortunate that God had given me the best gift that anybody could have given me.

When I looked at the sky and I saw a plane, I said from the bottom of my heart, ‘little airplane, some day you will take me home.’ And my dream that seemed impossible at that moment came true! And I could teach my family everything that I had learned about what a celebration is.

Now I have another dream. I am sure it will be my next celebration, because I am convinced that dreams can become reality. I only have to work hard and strive for my goal, to learn and speak fluent English to open the doors that are now closed to me.

I want a better life, and I don’t want people to abuse people like me that can’t speak English.

That day when I achieve my goal, I will say like they say in the children’s program in English, Dora the Explorer, ‘I DID IT!’”

“I Overcome My Weakness”

December 13, 2017 at 10:09 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LCNV learner Liem was initially shy and nervous about speaking English, and her limited English proficiency made life difficult. She required the help of friends and relatives to complete everyday tasks, and couldn’t understand other English speakers. Even though she had learned some English in high school, Liem needed immersive instruction as an adult. Luckily, Liem enrolled with the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia. A dedicated student since 2011, Liem now understands English. Irrespective of background or previous education level, all beginning-level adult English language learners are welcome at LCNV. For information about classes beginning in January, click here.

“By learning English, I hope to become a better communicator. With improved English, I can better adjust to this new life in my second country: the United States.

I learned English through my native language during my high school years without practicing with an English teacher. When I came here, I [was] met with many disadvantages in using English. I really didn’t understand the fast speech, the difficult accents or the conversational vocabulary of native English speakers. I was afraid to go out without my relatives. I only smiled to my neighbors when they greeted me. I was at the DMV for the driver’s license exam with a translator. Although I listened to what the cashier said every time I went shopping, I couldn’t understand anything at all. I was very disappointed. I know learning English or any other language takes time and patience. It cannot be rushed. But how could I carry on learning English with the best results?

Since I have worked with my teacher who the Literacy Council presented to me, I am much improved. I overcome my weakness and shyness and follow my volunteer teacher’s instructions. She helps me to correct my mistakes about pronunciation and grammar. We focus on conversation, sentence structures, idioms and cultural references found in actual life.

Gradually, I began to feel more confident than I was before in my communication. Now I love to study English because I can speak to express my thoughts. I am able to understand some simple sentences when people speak. It’s very interesting.

I know I still have to work hard for a long time to continue learning. As I continue to learn, and become a successful communicator, I can live here like the native people. A new life with many good things in the United States will make my dream come true.”

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