100 volunteers needed for Nashville Adult Literacy Council alone
Somali student: four years to speak English proficiently, even more to read and write
"They say almost universally if I knew English other doors would open" Janell Ross of the Tennessean reported here on the time it takes for a student to learn English, and on the need for teachers:
LaWanna Shelton, the director of Metro schools' English as a Second Language programs, said people don't learn languages simply because they are surrounded by them.Photo by Pete Zivkov. Licensed under Creative Commons.
"How many people studied a foreign language in high school, or high school and college?" Shelton said. "How many have been on those Spanish immersion trips to Mexico for two weeks? How many can speak that language, I mean, really speak that language, read it, write it? Well, that should give people some idea how difficult, how individual, how much of a process it really is."
Fadumo Siyke, a native of Somalia ... said it took four years to speak proficient English in most settings, but she still couldn't read or write the language. When she took her citizenship exam for the first time in January, she passed the oral section but failed the written test.
When [Renata] Soto's agency [Conexion Americas] surveys Latinos in the Nashville area, one answer appears repeatedly.
"People don't talk about a better-paying job, sometimes they don't even talk about papers," she said. "They say almost universally if I knew English other doors would open."
[T]he Nashville Adult Literacy Council, which also works with U.S.-born adults who cannot read, is in need of nearly 100 volunteers willing to work one-on-one with foreign-language speakers or adults who want to learn to read.