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So often, we look to Adult Basic Education Classes and pronounce the heroes of the class to be the students. Which, they are, but they aren’t the only ones who deserve recognition. A few days ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rosangela Marquez Reyes, a highly favorited ESL teacher at the Dallas Public Library in Dallas, TX. It’s obvious by the way she talks about her students and her job that she’s extremely passionate about her position as well as her impact on her student’s lives. 

If you’ve never had the pleasure of getting an inside look at a standard ESL class in the United States, it looks like this:

10-20 adult students, the majority of whom may speak Spanish, but are also from many other linguistic backgrounds. Teachers who are skilled enough to take on the task of being an ESL teacher often have to rise to meet the obstacles of cultural as well as language barriers from all over the world. By that alone, regardless of the challenges that every teacher faces, it takes a very special individual to not only fulfill the requirements of being an ESL teacher, let alone be a successful one.

K-12 to Adult Education

Rosangela has been working in Adult Education for 2+ years, but prior to this had taught the k-12 population, which lead me to ask “Why the switch?”

“Adults have this zeal for learning.” She replied. “They’re in class because they want to be, so getting to have adult conversations about everyday life, like shopping, banking, and making friends makes my job easier. We learn vocabulary using newspaper articles, we practice conversations about enrolling kids in school or asking for help. My approach with adults is giving them (the) information they can use in everyday life; developing their communication skills so that they can practice the simplest, most mundane interactions which we English speakers take for granted in our daily living.”

There is certainly something to be said for being able to apply real-life experience to your teachings. There are studies that show that Adults who go back to school later in life tend to be more successful than students that go along with the traditional age-path due to being able to relate to their teachers who use current/world based examples to teach their subjects. I was curious about what her favorite parts about teaching ESL were. 

The Wins

“I get instant gratification and feedback in my job. I’ll see students who started in my class in January super shy and reluctant to participate become active and more confident by June. Others will get employed and put their English to practice. Some of my older students will start teaching and guiding newer students.”

The Challenges

What unique challenges does teaching ESL to Adult Learners provide? “It’s a work in progress. I have to remind some of my exasperated students to be patient with themselves. It takes about 6-7 years to be fully fluent in a new language. It’s one step at a time. I don’t want them to feel pressured to be perfect. My goal is to make them feel confident and comfortable with their English.” 

The Solutions

 

But there has to be something that alleviates the stress and confusion that also engages and helps students achieve their goals? 
“Once I started taking more control of my curriculum and lesson planning, there was a drastic difference in how comfortable I felt with my teaching and how effectively my students were learning. It would also be beneficial to have more access to more technology and resources for everyone in the class.
Another great part of our job is our collaboration with the Dallas Museum of Art. We’re able to take our students on free field trips so they can learn vocabulary and critical thinking skills associated with the arts. That has been a game-changer. We’re showing them that they are an important and active part of our community.”

 

It’s no secret that Mrs. Marquez Reyes is invested in her students, given her track record, she may very well be one of the most successful teachers at the Dallas Public Library. Here at WorkReady Mobile, we do so much more than just build an app to give to Adult Ed Programs. We work tirelessly to create a product made with these challenges in mind to make sure that students and teachers have the resources they need to learn with as few obstacles as possible. It was an absolute pleasure getting to know Mrs. Marquez Reyes. If you or someone you know is interested in attending an ESL class in the DFW area, please look her up!

 

Until next time,