Speaking in their own words

February 22, 2013 at 5:01 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Speaking in their own words

Shaza w Teacher

Students at the Literacy Council come from many different places.  In just my three classes, I have students that represent up to 15 different countries, which range from Sudan to El Salvador to Morocco to Vietnam. At first glance, you may expect our classes to be extremely diverse, which is in fact true. But despite the diversity of our students’ backgrounds and experiences, there are some commonalities that can be found among the student population as well.

Most of our students are new to the country. They commonly feel isolated and don’t know too many people. They all come to class to improve their English skills. Whether it is in writing, listening, pronunciation, or speaking, all of our students strive to advance their English abilities.

Shaza, a student from Sudan, is enrolled in the Family Learning Program.  She is committed to learning and improving her English skills. When asked to write about why she wants to take English class, Shaza writes, “I want to take English class because I want to speak English fluently and help my kids in school, and I want to work.”

Rehab, another student enrolled in the Family Learning Program, excitedly explained to me that she was able to communicate with her child’s teacher the night before. She was insistent on making the point that she was able to do it by herself and without assistance from her friend or husband.  After talking with most of my students, it is clear that most of them want independence in this new country. They want to stop relying on their children or friends to communicate with new people. Like Shaza, a goal for Rehab is to be able to help her children in school and communicate with their teachers.

When asked what skills she wants to improve on, Shaza writes, “I want to learn the accent of the English language, conversation, and writing.”
This is Shaza’s third English class with the Literacy Council, and she is steadily improving her speaking and writing. She is an avid student who has a stellar attendance record and her commitment to learning inspires other students to participate and step out of their comfort zones.


It’s really neat to work for the Literacy Council and be able to observe students working together towards similar goals and seeing them progress in their abilities.  Although our students come from all over the world, they come to the Literacy Council to improve their English skills and to become active people in the community.


Katie Trizna, AmeriCorps Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042

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