All Americans Agree: English is Crazy!

October 15, 2019

Is English Pronunciation Really That Hard?

Yes, it is! Just ask Ricky Ricardo. He will demonstrate to you the many pitfalls of English pronunciation here! I am a big fan of ‘I Love Lucy’ and I have watched this clip many times and I still laugh so hard every time I see it.

It is funny but also very true at the same time. I envision our English students here at the Center for New Americans when they try to sound out new words or try to remember the pronunciation of words we studied the day before. “English is hard, teacher. It is very hard.” All Americans Agree

Spelling and pronunciation don’t seem to be in sync as nicely as in other languages; the same syllable has several different pronunciations depending on its position within the word. There are many rules how a letter or combination of letters should be pronounced, but then there are just as many exceptions. And for someone who is just starting out to learn English neither one is very helpful. We all remember the rule, ‘I’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ – but what if “your foreign neighbor Keith receives eight counterfeit sleighs from feisty caffeinated weightlifters?” Weird. Right? Today I read a book; yesterday I read a book.

“A farm can produce produce. The dump was so full it had to refuse refuse. The soldier decided to desert in the desert. The wind was too strong to wind the sail. I shed a tear when I saw the tear in my clothes. The insurance for the invalid was invalid. The bandage was wound around the wound. “ (author unknown)

All Americans Agree

I think you have to admit that you struggled a little with some of these sentences before you came up with the correct pronunciation. Didn’t you? I sure did. Stay tuned for more craziness in the English language.

Written by
Silke Hansen | LSS Center for New Americans
ESL Instructor and Interpreter
300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
605-731-2041 direct | 1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax

Students Celebrate Success at Center for New Americans: Part 1

October 8, 2019

It was a joyous day for many students at the Center for New Americans as they celebrated their achievements at the end of the quarter.

Over a three month period, 70 students graduated out of at least one level of English.  Students and teachers celebrated with an award ceremony, food, music, and speeches.

AM speaker

During one impassioned speech, a student answered the question, why are students so dedicated to learning English?  She shared a moving story of her first flight to the United States and how embarrassing it was to not understand anything around her at the airport.  However, she says:

And here I’m after a year and 7 months and studying English.  I don’t speak it correctly.  I don’t write it correctly, but I feel safer to go to the clinic or the store and the airport and ask for what I need.  I will continue studying English until I finish all levels and speak it correctly.  I have two reasons for this…

The first because I would like to be a good example for my daughters, that they see that although I struggle to learn, I try hard and I commit myself to continue studying, so they will do the same with their studies.  I believe that my example is very important even though they are adults.

The second reason why I have as a goal to speak English correctly is because I would like to work or volunteer to be a nurse’s assistant in a hospital.  I have hope in my heart.  I have a lot of faith that I will achieve.  I believe I can learn English.

Students and teachers sing a special South Dakota version of the John Denver song “Country Roads”

The Day was fun, inspiring, and we look forward to many more successes.  Make sure to catch us again soon when we share more inspiring speeches and photos from the student celebration.


Some of the Morning Graduating Students Pose With Their Certificates


Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103

1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax

New Americans-About-Town

October 1, 2019

There are a million wonderful things about the Center for New Americans, but the two main wonderful things are our students and their willingness to jump right in to their new community. This was the case, again, when a group of teachers and students went to the Downtown Public Library and attended a City Council Meeting during the evening block of classes a few weeks ago.. These were both new experiences for our students, but they enjoyed every minute of it.

At the library, the students learned about the services the library offered and then got library cards. And with those cards, they checked out books, books on tape, and DVDs. Oh, do we love the library. Thank you, Librarian Amber, for showing us the library ropes!

After some time exploring the library, we then walked two blocks south to the Carnegie Town Hall to attend a City Council meeting –all of us (teachers included!) for the very first time.

New Americans About Town

Students pose in front of the Carnegie Town Hall.


The City Council meeting that night seemed to be most about city improvement, so we listened in as Sioux Falls citizens gave their input on the ash trees, downtown transportation, and road construction; then we watched as the Council members discussed establishing a new dog park downtown and expanding the bike trail.

New American About Town

Students and Teachers inside the City Council room, waiting for the meeting to start.

Overall, it was another great night with our students and everyone experienced something new and important!

Written by Lindy Obach | LSS Center for New Americans
ESL Instructor
300 E 6th St | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free

Strengthening Individuals, Families and Communities

Technology in the Classroom at the Center for New Americans

September 18, 2019


It’s not just English anymore.  Refugees and immigrants that come to the United States are no longer just bombarded with a new language.  They also have to quickly and successfully learn to navigate technology.

For instance, each morning I come to work.  I log into a computer and sign in for the day.  I check my email for any new messages.  I upload documents to share with my students.  I search electronic files and print papers.  At home I pay my bills, shop online, and communicate with family and friends all over the United States and beyond.

So it goes without saying that to live in America people need to be very fluent in technology. Students look forward to learning technology in our classrooms.  They know that technology is necessary for navigating this new country they are now living in.

At the Center for New Americans we help students learn about technology in the classroom.  In addition to computer specific classes, the Center for New Americans offers monthly technology days in all English classes and often includes technology in daily lesson plans.

Many of our students are dedicated to learning English and mastering computer technology.  They faithfully come to combined English and technology classes.  When asked why they are so dedicated and why technology is so important to them, this is what they answered:

One student, a hardworking young man from Sudan, says he came to the United States “because  it is a free country.” English is important to him, because it’s “the official language in the U.S.  I need to speak and write it,”  but he believes technology is equally important because, “I want to learn computer to apply for a job.”

Another student, a young mother from Ethiopia, came to America because, “I want to live in a free country.” She says that in addition to learning English, “Computer skills have become more and more important as companies have started to depend upon computerized technology to get almost every work done.”

I am so very proud of my students for recognizing the importance of technology and embracing it with such determination.  Kudos to you and here’s looking towards an amazing future!

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103

1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax


New Americans Visit the Library!

September 3, 2019

“The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.”              Albert Einstein

I always knew I wanted to be an English teacher – always. So you can probably guess that one of my most favorite places in the world is a public library. Whenever I moved to a new city, the very first thing I did was go get my library card. Ben Franklin did a lot for our country, but I rank his founding of free libraries as #1.

New Americans Visit the Library!

The gang in front of the Downtown Library.

Imagine my delight, then, in taking a fun and diverse group of students to the Sioux Falls Downtown Public Library, all of them for their very first time! Our school is right on the beautiful river walk, so Teacher Mary, Volunteer Karen, and I walked along the Big Sioux to 8th Street with everyone, and then two blocks later, we were at the library.

FIRST, though, we had to stop and take a picture underneath the “Arc of Dreams.” I sure can’t think of a better group to stand beneath this special sculpture than these brave people who have survived the unimaginable and are now realizing their dream of living in freedom in a safe and healthy community.

New Americans Visit the Library!

American dreamers underneath the Arc of Dreams!

The Downtown librarians greeted us warmly upon our arrival and ushered us into a conference room to explain the day: library tours, getting library cards, and time to explore.

New Americans Visit the Library!

Three smart and helpful librarians took care of us!

I really couldn’t have asked for a better day. I just about burst with pride as I watched them get their library cards—just think of how much their worlds expanded with that little piece of plastic. One student told me, “Teacher, I think I will come here a lot. No more sitting at home with the TV!”


Some students found books right away that they checked out; others explored the online learning the library offers. And others really enjoyed the comfy chairs. 🙂

A huge THANK YOU to the staff at the Downtown Public Library. You sure made our day special.

By Lindy Obach, LSS Center for New Americans ESL Instructor
300 E 6th St | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free

Why It Is Not a Good Idea to Use a Torch during a Power Outage in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (and Other Musings)

August 27, 2019

However, it is a perfectly sensible idea if you come from that part of the world where British English is spoken. But English is English is English, right?

Well, I’m sure that’s what our students here at the Center for New Americans thought when they landed in their new home. Many of them studied English in their home countries, be it at school or to get prepared for their move to America. Many of their countries were colonized by the British, so their English was influenced by British English as well.

Today, there are more than 80 countries in the world today where the official torchlanguage is English. Most of these are former territories of the British Empire. Over 2 billion people in the world speak English, but word choice and pronunciation vary greatly.

English is the official language of the United Nations, the European Union and many other international organizations and businesses. These differences come up in the classroom almost on a daily basis.

When we practice how to write a complete sentence and I explain to the students how important it is to put a period at the end they look at me with a bewildered look on their faces. “Oh, you mean a full stop, teacher.” Yes, that’s what I mean.

When we talk about the possibility of a power outage during a thunderstorm, they tell me not to worry. “We have a torch in our house, we will use a torch to give us light.” An American torch would have a disastrous effect; the term flashlight would be much more appropriate here.

In Sioux Falls, our students may live in a second floor apartment and take the elevator up to their floors. A speaker of British English, on the other hand, would describe the same home as a flat on the first floor and use the lift to get there. In America, a woman might wear a bonnet, whereas in British English this same word describes the hood of a car. Americans eat French fries while the British eat chips. Many American children wear braces on their teeth, but British men wear braces to hold up their pants. And the list goes on.


With that being said, Cheers!

Written by:
Silke Hansen | LSS Center for New Americans ESL Instructor and Interpreter

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 Sioux Falls, SD 57103

605-731-2041 direct, 1-866-242-2447 toll free

Strengthening Individuals, Families and Communities

Images courtesy of and Pinterest



New Americans Take a Field Trip to the Old Courthouse Museum!

August 20, 2019

At the Center for New Americans, we work exceptionally hard to make sure our students feel welcome in our school, but we also work to make sure they feel welcome in the community. A great way to accomplish this is to take a field trip!

Because our little school is downtown, we are within walking distance of a number of fascinating, family-friendly sights to see.

This time, Teachers Heather and Lindy took their upper-level speaking students to the Old Courthouse Museum, a beautiful building in the heart of downtown.

The Old Courthouse Museum checks all our boxes:

  1. it’s free
  2. it’s a short walk away
  3. it’s educational
  4. it’s SUPER COOL!

Enjoy some pictures from our day!


Written By Lindy Obach | LSS Center for New Americans
ESL Instructor
300 E 6th St | Sioux Falls, SD 57103
1-866-242-2447 toll free

Strengthening Individuals, Families and Communities

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