Unorthodox bilingual class offered at Palatine church

For some people, learning to navigate the information superhighway is like learning to speak a foreign language. So imagine the difficulty of learning about computers if the only language you speak is a foreign one. Officials at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Palatine recognize the perplexing difficulty, so they are helping area Hispanic residents from Juan Diego Mission Church learn computer basics. They are teaching some – who speak little or no English – how to use Microsoft Word, a mouse and a keyboard. They are also learning to write letters. Karen Bauder, the church’s technology coordinator, said the program is a partnering effort between the church and Harper College in Palatine. A translator is on hand to bridge the gap between language barriers. During the first session of “Beginning Computer Basics,” more than 45 people showed up for the class. To provide a proper atmosphere, Bauder said the class had to be divided into two groups. “(Students) are very patient and very grateful,” Bauder said. “They are such willing learners. They are thirsting for knowledge.” Pastors from both churches got together and discussed the program as a means to help the community realize a dream: They wanted some Hispanic residents looking for jobs to have some acquaintance with technology. Bauder said the program is helpful because it offers hands-on instruction. “It’s more accessible than a library,” she said. “And at a library they can’t always converse. We have a translator so we can communicate effectively.” The program concludes Tuesday but a new one begins in January. Meanwhile, there are open computer sessions on evenings from Nov. 10 through Dec. 16 at the church, 200 N. Plum Grove Road. “This program was our way of giving something back,” Bauder said. “We’ve had so many people help us by donating machines and running wires. So we want to give back.”

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