This week all of our blog posts will be following a ‘Back to School’ theme from the perspective of each of our departments. Check back each day for something new. For today, it’s the Center for New Americans….
Worried looks, eager faces, glances at other students. Those are the typical images of children on the first day of school, right? Well those images are true even for adult students! Some are scared and unsure of what class will be like, while others can’t wait for class to begin and have their notebook and pen all ready to go before the teacher even enters the room.
Here at the Center for New Americans, we offer a variety of classes for adult learners. Classes like: English as a Second Language, Citizenship preparation, Cultural Orientation, and S.T.E.P (job training). I sat down with Instructor Silke Hansen to learn more about the first day of school.
Before the first day of class, each student is tested on their English skills using the standardized BEST Plus test. Their score determines their placement in class. There are 4 levels to the English classes with 1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest. Our classes are offered year-round so there is not one official start date, but new students begin class on the second and fourth Monday of every month.
That first day of class is full of new information. Often, teachers review the rules and appropriate etiquette for the classroom. New students go through introductions and tell the class something about themselves. In Hansen’s lower classes, it is something as simple as “My name is… and I come from….” For higher level classes though, they may describe their family, job or hobby. Then class begins as normal.
English class time is 2 hours long and students learn both oral English skills and literacy skills. Daytime classes are offered 4 times a week and nighttime classes are offered twice a week. When their instructor feels that the student has sufficiently absorbed all of the material, the student again takes the BEST Plus test and their new score determines if they “graduate” into the next level.
For many of our students this is the first opportunity in their life to really go to school. Some may have attended school when they were very little but then war broke out and the schools were closed. Others were never able to afford school, as public schools in the American sense don’t exist in some countries. To finally have the chance to attend school is amazing for them. The pride on their faces when they tell you that they “go to school just like my child” shines so brightly. And they can’t get enough! Our students continually express the desire for English classes to be offered every single day, even weekends! Students are also asking for additional resources to use outside of class, like websites or apps.
If you are interested in volunteering as a classroom assistant, please sign up or call 605-731-2000!
Written by Kristyne Walth