Voices from the Lab: Bilingual Computer Classes a Hit in Rural Texas

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Around fifteen students attended a five week bilingual computer training session in Smithville Texas recently, presented by the Rural Texas and San Antonio office of Technology For All. The students, all Spanish speakers who were learning English, covered a variety of topics including basic computers, keyboarding, using the Internet, working with email, setting up Facebook profiles, applying for jobs, and working with computers on the job.

A trainer from the RTSA office paired up with a local teacher who presents regular classes to Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students. “Students were excited for the opportunity,” said John Dees, RTSA Training Manager and class presenter. “They soaked up every topic and wanted more. It showed how needed these classes are.”

“I found my family,” said one student after setting up a Facebook profile and adding her relatives from Mexico. “Now we can chat and keep in touch regularly.” Another woman with two young children in school was able to view their grades and monitor their progress. Three workers from the same company learned how to enter their time on a computer, a new job requirement that made them uneasy at first until they saw how simple the task was.

“This was such a fantastic offering for these students,” said the LEP teacher. “You could tell they learned so much. Not only did they learn computer skills, it opened new opportunities for practicing their English and connecting to the bigger world.”

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