English Classes for Families was a new series offered last year at the North Orange Branch thanks in large part to funding from the Florida Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This series was designed to develop English skills for the whole family. Over the course of the series, bilingual teachers help parents and children work on their language skills and provide strategies to address challenges they may face at work or school.
After months of preparation, anticipation and excitement, the day arrived for us to welcome families to the new class. We were delighted to welcome a very diverse group of students (in background, ethnicity, and age). Among our students, there were eight nationalities including Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Lebanon, Myanmar, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Colombia. In our first two weeks of classes, we’ve welcomed 70 students and have explored many exciting things.
Students were introduced to two reading strategies, (Know Want Learned) KWL and Using Think Marks. For the KWL strategy, students learned the importance of activating schemata (K) about the text before reading in order to think about what they want to know from the text and to discuss what they’d learned after reading. Students also learned how to use Think Marks to highlight important things, questions about the text, a funny passage, something surprising or what they loved about the text. In addition to reading strategies, students also learned about Prepositions of Place and participated in a Total Physical Response (TPR) activity used to encourage learning through physical movement. Overall, it’s been a great start to the program with a number of students commenting that they’ve really enjoyed the class and are learning a lot.
We hope to be able to share more about what students have learned and how this series has helped improve their English skills and change their lives in the coming weeks.