Florence G. Phillips: Children of immigrants benefit from network of volunteers

I love living in Northern Nevada and have been an active community participant for several decades in the areas of advocacy targeting workability and job readiness for those families immigrating to our great state with the emphasis on English language acquisition and US citizenship. Here’s what I know:

Nevada continues to experience low education rates with many factors contributing to this statistic. Some of which are the following:

Seven out of 10 of our school students speak a language other than English at home;

Many children speak English with difficulty because they convert into their native language at home as a result of their parents/grandparents, not being able to model the use of English, mirroring to their children what’s being learned in their classrooms;

An increased use and often dependence on federal and state funds such as food stamps and welfare, not because of an absence of skills, but solely because they don’t have the English language to step into jobs that are available;

Parents I work with are committed and focused on being self-sufficient, financial providers for their families, with the drive to be tax-paying, community participants like you and I.

I often hear, ”How can I make a difference in my community and in my state?” I have a one-word answer: Volunteer.

The ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada helps parents who primarily speak another language learn English at no cost to them so they can be active participants within their child’s classroom, assist with their child’s homework needs, be advocates for their child during medical and other appointments and participate with them in after-school extra-curricular activities, to name a few. By doing so, their parents support and model for their children to learn early on how to be productive members of their community when they reach adulthood.

Some common questions I receive are do you need to know the language spoken by the parent? No. You’re teaching English after all! What’s the time commitment? The average commitment per student is 1-2 hours a week. Do I need teaching experience? No, we give you a 45-minute training at your convenience in how to teach English as a Second Language.

Founded 13 years ago, our nonprofit volunteer service organization matches volunteer tutors with students, offering one-on-one tutoring which gives the student personal attention, different than the typical classroom group setting. Just like our children, parents have different learning styles. Teaching on a one-on-one basis engages the parent in a supportive way where learning comes from engagement of the tutor-student relationship.

As our program works hard to continue to meet our mission of helping non-English speakers in our communities learn our language, I’m pleased to share our program has received tremendous growth since it was founded. Today we have 252 new U.S. citizens (by the way, it costs $725 to apply). We have helped more than 5,000 adults and their families. However, we have more than 900 on our wait-list who are anxious to learn English language skills and become productive members in their communities.

Ready to be part of the solution? To find out more about ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada and to learn how you can also make a monetary donation to support the cost of books and teaching materials or to sponsor the cost of US citizenship application costs, please visit our website, www.eslinhome.org.

I thank you, parents of ESL school children thank you and, most importantly, the children thank you.

Florence G. Phillips is founder/executive director of the ESL In-Home Program. Contact: 775-888-2021, eslinhomennv@gmail.com, eslinhome.org.


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