TFA + Houston Public Library= Grassroots Outreach for ESL

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Mango Languages is a self-paced online language learning resource serving the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institute of Health and 1 in 5 U.S. libraries, including Houston Public Library. Donna and Amy from the Houston Public Library’s Community Outreach brought it to Mission Milby’s ESL class in a TFA computer lab. “Anything I think is a big need in the community, I push for,” Amy says.

The class is broken into 10 students at a time, “so everyone gets attention.” Amy, speaking fluent Spanish, walks students through the Houston Public Library (HPL) and Mango Languages website for familiarity. Donna and Technology For All Program Specialist Ken provide technical support for the students, who use the lab’s computers and headphones to see, speak and hear English letters, words and phrases. This technique allows them to learn interactively and intuitively–the reason behind Mango Language’s success as a learning tool.

As students watch videos and type their answers, they can also register for a library card. Since most official paperwork is in English, ESL students often face limited access to vital resources like libraries and identification documents, such as a Texas driver’s license. However, Amy and Donna have bilingual registration cards and brochures explaining what the library offers and how their cards work. They also can use any official I.D. to register—useful since so many have come from other states and countries—as long as they have proof of Texas address. “People usually just get their insurance card out of their car,” she says. “We want to be flexible in this position.”

As Ken reminds the classes they can use Mission Milby’s computer equipment in and outside of class, Amy smiles. “This is outreach.” Best of all, it’s free thanks to public resources like libraries and TFA labs.

Mission Milby Community Development Corporation is a nonprofit serving Houston’s Pecan Park and Greater East End neighborhoods. It offers classes on General Education Development, English as a Second Language, computers and more. For more information, call 713-454-6464 or visit 2220 Broadway Street.

Source: Technology For All

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