For adults like Maria Galvan, the English-speaking world was a forbidding place.
Then she decided to enroll in the Community Based English Tutoring program at Madison Elementary School.
I can now go to the pharmacy or the doctor’s and communicate,” said Galvan. The program, which began in April, now has more than 300 adults attending classes.
The majority or 95 percent of the students are parents whose child attends the school and the other five percent are community members.
The program offers three different classes,” said Maria Acuna, outreach consultant.
One is an English as a Second Language class or ESL, two is a computer class and three is a tutoring session,” Acuna said.
The ESL class has two levels, beginning 1 and beginning 2. Here the students learn oral, reading and writing skills in English twice a week.
The computer class has two software programs that the students work on to develop their skills. One, is Ellis and two is Compass.
Ellis is a language development program. It allows the student to listen to the pronunciation of letters and has them repeat the sound. If they are not pronouncing them correctly the computer will let the student know.
The program has three levels, and students must take an exam to move up.
Compass is also a language development program and is literature based. Students read a book through the computer and then are asked questions at the end. The books are basic children’s literature.
This allows them to know the story and then they could take the book home and work with their kids,” said Marti Baker, principal of the school.
Baker said that most students do take at least one book home with them to read with their kids.
Compass also has units that teach sights and sounds, pronunciation and a seek-and-find feature; students visit places via the computer and learn names of things. The class is also offered twice a week.
The software programs are sophisticated. The combined cost was more than $100,000.
All students must take a placement exam at the beginning of the semester and an exit exam to move up. Also students are tested regularly to check their progress.
This allows them to start at the beginning level and not be scared,” said Bertha Rester-Hanks, research teacher
Students themselves have noticed tremendous improvement.
I now speak a little and can understand English where I can help my kids with their homework,” said Rosa Samono, one-year student.
There are five other schools in the city that have the program: Lowell, Washington, Jackson, Kennedy and Davis.
Santa Ana College students teach both the ESL class and Tutor Classes.
Funding for the program was made available through Proposition 227, which limited bilingual education in California. The district received money with the idea of teaching adults English so that they could teach their children.
Classes, organized by semesters, are held Monday through Thursday from 8:15 a.m. to 11 a.m. and in the evenings from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The program offers childcare for parents who attend classes and have children who are either off cycle from regular school or are too young to attend school. The school also offers citizenship classes and a literature class in the evenings.
For more information, call (714) 972-6400.