ESL Providers Gather At WAEF Forum In Ellensburg

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Annually, the Washington Apple Education Foundation awards grants through its Farmworker Education Program to local community organizations that provide adult educational opportunities that benefit farmworker families. Seven organizations were selected this year with programs centered around adult basic education, English as a Second Language (ESL) and citizenship preparation.

We have just begun our third year of hosting two annual forums during the traditional ESL program year. The ESL forums are a way to allow providers to support each other to success! ESL providers gather to share ideas, obstacles, and to benefit from the knowledge of other educational providers in the area.


Yesterday, September 13th, WAEF hosted the fall ESL Forum. 25 guests were in attendance from 10 different local organizations.  In a break from our past programs that included a keynote speaker presenting ideas to our local ESL providers, current grant recipients were invited to present on specific areas where they had experienced unique success.  

 Chelan-Douglas Literacy Council executive director Anwen Cartwright and volunteer coordinator Kay Loeffler provided an insightful presentation about how they train their ESL teacher-volunteers during a full-day volunteer training workshop. Highlights included discussion in the areas of:

·         Relationship building

·         Expectations of volunteers and staff

·         Do's & Don'ts

·         Student assessments and testing

·         Culture in the classroom

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 They provided a demonstration of a specific class for their volunteers taught completely, and as a surprise, in German! The German class is used as an example to show their volunteers that they can teach ESL classes to students who don't speak the same language using intonation, body language, hand gestures, repetition and general social skill interactions.

 The second group to present were Anjelica Reyes Meija and Laura Armstrong of La Casa Hogar who presented their case for charging ESL class participants.  The topic encouraged discussion and many questions were raised during this presentation as most of the organizations in attendance hold the classes for free.  Following the change at La Casa Hogar, attendance in classes increased and students expressed deeper appreciation for and connection to the Yakima charity.

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  At this time, attendees took a short break for lunch where they had a chance to network, connect and follow up on areas of interest shared during the morning sessions.

 The third presenter, ESL instructor Merrill Sepulveda from the Friends of Buena Library spoke about the effectiveness of incorporating children's homework in adult ESL classes. Merrill discussed the importance of an entire family unit working together to achieve ESL success.

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The day closed with information about the WAEF scholarship program. Flyers for distribution were shared with the group in English and Spanish.  Providers were asked to share this information with the families they get to work with and provide feedback to WAEF about comments and questions asked of them by families with college-aged students.

Participation in the forums continues to rise and the flow of ideas seems to spark new levels each session.  We now see providers reaching out to each other with needs for help and guidance and inviting each other to special events occurring in their programs to help build the capacity in peer organizations operating throughout tree fruit districts.

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The next ESL forum is tentatively scheduled for mid-March with more details to be determined.