Adults learn English as second language

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 25, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Adults aren&8217;t so sponge-like.

But that doesn&8217;t mean they can&8217;t learn. So for about eight years First Baptist Church has offered an English as a second language class for adults.

When it started, the classes were big, current organizer Astrid Daly said, approximately 20 people.

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The group originally met on Sunday, right after church, and was taught by her husband at the prompting of a new minister at FBC.

But eventually, Sundays became too busy and the group switched to Wednesday mornings.

The switch cut the group down to mostly women, since the men were working, Daly said.

The mothers and grandmothers have met for two and half hours each week during the regular school year up until now. The class has yet to start this year because of dwindling numbers, Daly said, though she&8217;s working to recruit students.

Recruiting is the name of the game for the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Vidalia, too. Dr. Robert Barnes and other church members have held one small class so far, but need more students, he said.

Barnes and Daly both feel the need is out there, but the group just needs to be gathered.

In both classes, volunteer teachers work though books with the group teaching the basics of English.

&8220;We&8217;ve worked with a couple of people who&8217;ve done extremely well,&8221; Daly said.

Barnes said his five teachers use picture books with simple themes, such as the kitchen, to teach the language.

All of Daly&8217;s students have been Spanish speakers except one Indian woman several years ago, she said. And sometimes the class has become more of a social gathering than a study group.

&8220;They felt they wanted to come out to have a morning out,&8221; Daly said. &8220;We had babysitting, and for them it was at least a chance to see each other.&8221;

The church also provides drivers and helps with the other technicalities.

Right now, only two are interested in taking the new class, and Daly said she would try to get the program going for them soon.

Though Daly lived in Mexico for a while and knows some Spanish, teachers are not required to know the language.

FBC teachers are trained through Southern Baptist Convention.

&8220;If you know English, you can teach it,&8221; Daly said. &8220;Teachers just need a heart to teach.&8221;

When the program first started the Dalys and other church members visited local apartment complexes looking for interested participants. Many students have been wives of La Fiesta Grande employees over the years, Daly said.

The Dalys also teach a Sunday School class at FBC comprised of approximately 10 regulars, all Spanish speakers.

Anyone interested in taking an ESL class can contact First Baptist Church or Daly at 601-446-6451 or Barnes at 601-442-0829.

No time has been set for the Good Shepherd class yet, and Barnes said they were flexible. The class could be at night or on weekends at any location.