The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 13, 2013

Service in any language

Church sees English classes as a form of community outreach

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — On a recent Tuesday evening, 14 students and eight tutors sat around tables in fellowship hall of Emmanuel Baptist Church watching and listening to English teacher Mona Loewen as she wrote and pronounced words.

English as a Second Language classes meet weekly at Emmanuel. Classes are free, and enrollment is always open. Anyone needing to learn how to speak, read and write English is welcome to show up for the two-hour class.

The class has taught people who have originated from a number of different countries: Burma, Japan, Mexico, China, Korea, Russia, Brazil and Marshall Islands among them.

The words Loewen taught that day came with a health lesson as well — they were the names of illnesses and medical conditions.

When she got to the word “Alzheimer’s,” Loewen joked with her students.

“I think I have it,” Loewen quipped.

Then she moved on to the next part of the lesson — using the words in a sentence.

“I want to talk to you about an important verb, and that’s ‘have,’” Loewen said. “I have a sort throat. I have the flu.”

But when someone else is ill, the verb is “has,” Loewen explained.

Then she had them practice writing notes.

“Dear Mr. Smith, Louis has a cold. He cannot be at school today. The way we usually say this is, he will not be at school today. I hope he can be at school tomorrow.”

The class started meeting at Emmanuel about two years ago when Enid Literacy Council ran out of funding for the program, said Loewen, who also was involved through the council.

“When we didn’t have enough money, I thought it would be a good ministry for our church,” Loewen said. “I talked to the pastor, and he said, ‘OK.’”

Loewen goes over English words with the students for the first hour of class, then there is a short break before students work with volunteer tutors, either in small groups or individually.

Specialized tutoring is available to study for the GED, prepare to apply for citizenship or work on job-related language skills.

Brenda Wells, administrative coordinator for Emmanuel’s ESL program, said the church decided to provide the service in the community to branch out.

Books to use during class are provided at no charge. Students can purchase books for their personal use if they wish.

Child care is available during class.

“We have beginners and more experienced ones in the same sessions,” Loewen said.