From “No English” to “No interpreter”: Emma’s story

Emma started English classes before at the LSS Center for New Americans, but eventually stopped attending because she was tired from work.  “I was in Class 2 and 3, then…when I started my job in 1999, I don’t need English.”  Originally from Honduras, Emma first lived in California before coming to Sioux Falls for work.  “I come here…very, very nice…for job…for quiet.  I like my job.”

Emma eventually returned to English class and has now graduated to Level 4, but measures her English ability in a different way. “Now, I’m not nervous.  I go to the doctor…I go to the dentist…I don’t need interpreter.  I’m very, very happy.“ 

And that is the goal for most students attending English language classes.  In our most recent survey conducted this past spring, our students almost unanimously said that their goal in studying English was to be able to communicate with anyone in the community without the need of an interpreter.  On average more than 400 students attend our classes each month and more than 1,000 per year.  On our busiest day, 49 classes are offered!  The students attending classes from around the world–from more than 46 different countries.   Though their backgrounds are diverse, these students all share the same goal:  Fluency.

Emma, whose daily schedule goes like this: “I work 9 hours everyday.  I take a shower.  I eat.  I rest…maybe half an hour and I come here” would like to see more English classes offered in the evenings at the Center for New Americans. “I think we need 4 days of English,” she said before quickly slipping back into her classroom to join her classmates, classmates who have also worked full days at their own jobs and who come to class every Tuesday and Thursday evening to learn the language of the place they now all call “home.”

Volunteers are always welcome in our classes to provide support for our students as they learn English.  If you are interested in volunteering, please call 605-731-2000 or visit our website  to sign up!

Emma and her current teacher, Deanna

Emma and her current teacher, Deanna

Originally written by Kadie Becker, information updated by Kristyne Walth, Volunteer Coordinator Center for New Americans

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