The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 22, 2006

Carver Center helps people of many nationalities learn English

By Robert Barron

Non-English speaking people comprise a growing percentage of Enid’s population, and one education source is helping them assimilate into the community.

Enid’s Carver Education Center teaches English as a Second Language classes to a number of employees of Advance Food Co.

“We’ve done it in the past. A few years ago we had as many as four classes at their building on US 412,” said Clayton Nolen, director of the Carver Center.

Using workplace English, the classes involve the vocabulary of the workplace to teach English.

Advance called Nolen recently and said they wanted to do the classes again.

Christine Coffman is the teacher for the class. Coffman said the students are assessed to determine how much English they speak. Classes are taught Monday and Wednesday after shift, usually from 3 p.m. to about 5:30 p.m., and again from 5:45 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Classes average about 14 students.

This is Coffman’s first year at Carver, although she taught adult education and family literacy for four years in McAlester before moving back to Enid.

The class was begun in February.

“They are a hardworking group. They have been on a shift all day long, then get off and come straight to class. They won’t even take a break, they just want to work,” Coffman said.

Students are primarily Hispanic, but nationalities vary from El Salvador, Mexico and the Pacific Islands.

The students hold all have different positions in the company and perform different tasks. Students are working on conversational English to become more fluent, but Coffman said it is not difficult to design the curriculum.

“They are all getting English grammar and vocabulary. They are very concerned, hard working and committed,” she said.

Coffman leaves Advance and returns to the Carver Center, where she teaches a more diverse group including Vietnamese, Chinese, New Guinea, Marshallese, El Salvadoran, Mexican, Iranian, Syrani, and Jordanian.

There are two classes taught simultaneously at Carver Center and Coffman teaches the intermediate group. At Advance they are taught simultaneously.

The classes are offered free, including materials.

“We try to teach everyone English,” she said.