Category Archives: ESOL

Entries related to the Literacy Volunteer – ESOL page

Support Literacy

We are on this blog forum to read, write, or both – some of us in multiple languages. As a volunteer for our local literacy group, I am promoting our annual giving campaign.

Funding is crucial for this group that trains ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) tutors and helps people pass the citizenship examination.

While the link above tells you about the donation levels, this link provides some personal insights about the tutoring experience – from lesson 1 to several months down the road. (Be kind, I was a rookie blogger with stories I wanted to share.)

Make tax time fun by reading and writing. Read about an organization that promotes increased literacy and empowers adults. Write a check to support the training courses and resource library.

Thank you for your consideration as you evaluate your charitable contributions at year-end.

Merry Christmas and enjoy the holidays!


My Toy Story

I wonder  if my ESOL buddy will visit the U.S.A. again?

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I think of her during some of my own travels.

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She could meet our dog.

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My husband could cook for her.

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Perhaps start with a big head of lettuce for Caesar salads?

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We’d all become seasoned friends.

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My hand is extended in friendship until we meet again.

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In the meantime, I’ll just keep writing to her.

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Who loves ‘ya?

I want to write about Cristina but I have a heavy heart.


(2 hours later)

She will be going back to Spain earlier than planned.  As soon as she told me, I counted the few weeks we had left.  It made me want to cry.

I didn’t though. This was about her not me. Things have just not been working out with her host family. They are dragging this happy, positive outgoing person down.

She needs to be her full self again.

I am glad she wants to be free and realizes how important her happiness is at such a young age.


After we talked about her current home situation, departure dates and providing notice to her host, we took a selfie.  I say ‘we’ because I took the photo but Cristina, like my girls, had to tell me to hold the camera above our heads.



We worked on a part of our lesson plan after that.  Cristina looks at pictures and describes what she sees. I do the same so she can hear my pronunciation and sentence structure too. I’d picked out some book covers while I’d waited for her.

The first picture was of a farm and the book title was “Before Dawn”.  We talked about the multiple meanings of ‘dawn’ as well as sunrise versus sunset.  Even though farmers weren’t in the picture, Cristina added to her story by explaining they were in the farmhouse. When it was my turn, I elaborated that the cow was waiting to be milked.

A restful country porch with three cushioned chairs was next.  I referred to it as “a special place”. Cristina asked me to repeat. I did. Then she wondered where ‘pecial’ was. That’s when I realized I’d talked too fast again. My spoken ‘a special place’ had been heard by her as ‘Ace Pecial Place’.

The third book was an umbrella upside down on a lake.  I told her I thought it was a ‘parapluie’ in French. She audited me on Google translate and was as impressed as I was that I knew the translation.

Another book had a broken staircase leading to nowhere. We were both curious what the book was about until we saw the title was ‘Waveland’. We decided a hurricane had wiped the house out of the illustration.

Time was running out but Cristina took the time to explain the Spanish running of the bulls after I pointed out the difference between bulls and balls. The book title was ‘Dancing with the bulls’.  She’d understood the dancing pair on the cover to be at a ball.

The next cover only had a picture of a martini and olive.

I’d saved the best for last and wove in a few things I’d learned about her earlier in the week. I described the cover as her laughter grew when she saw the half-naked girl on a motorcycle:

“I see Cristina on her motor scooter in Barcelona.  Her boyfriend is watching as she drives away in a bikini.”

Cristina finished her own story. “She’s wearing that because she didn’t do the laundry yet!”


I thought we were done laughing when we hugged and walked toward the circulation desk.  She asked for the bathroom key and stopped in the hall. I said to have a good night as I headed for the exit. Cristina said she’d have a great night because she was sleeping by herself. Thinking of the fellow in Spain waiting for her, I asked her to repeat?

“Who do you usually sleep with at night?!”

“No! The family is away. I have the house to myself!”

I bust into laughter as I left the otherwise silent library….with a light heart.

Volunteer English

Here she is…and we have a class again tonight. I’m looking forward to it!

Mientras ellos duermen...

Hablando de las personas que se cruzan en mi camino, Donna está siendo una de ellas. Es una mujer Americana que conocí gracias a Gloria, coordinadora del voluntariado de la biblioteca. Ella me asignó a Donna para que fuera mi tutora  y pudiera ayudarme con el inglés. Cada jueves nos reunimos por la tarde. Ella me corrige, me ayuda con la pronunciación y a expresarme mejor en inglés. Lo que empezó siendo “unas clases” se ha convertido en un encuentro de amigas, donde nos contamos nuestra semana y poco a poco historias de nuestras vidas.

Desde nuestro primer encuentro me gustó lo que sentí. Las dos o tres primeras veces que nos vimos, aún permanecía en su sitio, guardando su espacio, manteniendo esa pequeña distancia. Recuerdo que yo le daba un pequeño abrazo al verla, se resistía un poco…Después de estos meses, ambas sonreímos alegremente, una sonrisa que te sale…

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Skype Hype

I opened the door to our study room and Cristina was on Skype. My manners were nowhere to be found. I walked right in and interrupted. I was voluntarily part of her life now, so I wanted to know who was on the phone.

Interestingly enough, before I could ask or put down my bag, Cristina invited me to sit next to her…and meet her mother!

She was happy and beautiful, just like her daughter.

I dont speak Spanish, so I just waved.

Cristina said the woman with her was Anna and she spoke English. Like typical women, regardless of culture, we all started talking at once.

It didn’t really matter, we were all overjoyed to meet and see our world’s collide.

Then a man entered the frame.

“Uncle” Paco corralled the four of us and helped with the translations.

It turns out, we were all thrilled and glad Cristina’s two worlds had finally met.

Paco had voluntarily walked into the room but no manners, or translations, were necessary.

Making up for lost time – field trip

The thing is, I met my friend at Panera to work on our blogs – and she ended up on Facebook spending time with all her other friends!

The thing is, I’m kidding. We took a fun selfie to send to her friends in Spain. I learned about links and photo alignment..and how to build word blocks.

The thing is, we just “hung out” together. It was good to have the extra time because our next lesson was cancelled.

I reminded Cristina to keep reading though:


Thing one and thing two will meet again next week.

Q & A

Our lesson started as expected with a hug and casual conversation. It is always a wonderful beginning and I love the whole hour. I learn more about Cristina each week and she makes me laugh and think about my own life.

We now communicate outside of our formal library time. Our phones aren’t just to call each other if we’re running late. We’re starting to text each other in between sessions. She is on ‘Whats Up?’ but I am not, so she may text me an update about her week. I am on Instagram and she is not, so i may send her an example of my daily photo challenge.


This challenge was “humor” I explain. I think I’m a riot. My family at home just thinks I’m crazy! Cristina mentioned that she had loved it.

I told her I thought it would have been better if my construction peeps had “built a breakfast” instead. I showed her the other photo I’d since taken:


She laughed. But it’s how she laughs. She seems to appreciate my humor and not be bothered by it. She gets me.

She asked about my husband’s reaction to my antics? I told her he is not a fan. I can be a talkative morning person and he just wants his coffee. I added, when I have “creative moments” he fears having to care for an insane spouse in our older years. Cristina had already formed her own opinion when she asked the question. “I think he is really smiling inside and loves the fact that you are so crazy.” It was such a genuine comment. It made me laugh but I wanted to cry.


My entries may sometimes seem disjointed. I cannot always remember how we move from one topic to the next:

At some point during our evening, I referred back to our prior week. Cristina had told me she liked Indian music. I asked her if sitting Indian-style translated in Spanish? Evidently not, so I sat on the floor with my peaceful demonstration. Cristina laughed out loud saying she sits like that all the time.

She also mentioned how much she moves around in her seat. I told her I was the same way. I even admitted to bending my left leg when I drive. I pulled my leg up to the study table and imitated myself driving.

I was glad we had reserved the room because we both belly-laughed out loud. Evidently, She does it too!

I told her we both “fidget” and then realized it didnt really translate. I wrote it down. We laughed at our similarities and the sound of the term. I told her we were both ‘fidgeters’ but wasn’t even sure it was an actual word.


Actually, the theme of our lesson was questions. Cristina is supposed to do most of the talking. She also likes to be sure she forms questions properly. I’d written down:

Who, what, where, when, why, how, which.

She’d been asking questions. She could ask any question she wanted and I would try to answer. She had to go through the list twice.

It had been fun and then it got under-handed.

I realized Cristina was cheating.

She started asking questions she already knew the answer:

Who made your bed this morning? She smiled as I answered, “nobody”.

Who made dinner last night? “My husband”.

I was learning more about her sense of humor too. I added a new word and asked the final question:

WHOSE lesson is over?

Mi Destino

Every week I’m more and more convinced that Cristina and I were made for each other. She seems to have the same philosophies and views to the world. I know our coordinator, Gloria, spends time trying to match the tutor to the student. I cannot thank her enough for that investment in us and getting it right.

Each session with Cristina now starts with one hug, two smiles and recaps of our week.  At this point in our journey, I don’t always remember what we cover because the conversations are so effortless. We ease into new topics like we are at the local coffee house and have known each other for years.

I do recall Cristina talking about ‘time’ at the beginning of our session.  It stands out in my mind because I collapsed into my easy chair and absorbed her thoughts in near disbelief.  She discussed not rushing and being present in the moment. She talked about the value and preciousness of time. She sounded so wise for someone so young. Many things she said I’ve only recently learned. I only added that I don’t wear a watch for many of the reasons she mentioned.  I also admitted that our library time, being at a set hour each week, is a routine I love but I am not a person of routine.

Our time discussion led to talking about retaining the playfulness of a child.  She used ‘puddles’ for an example and I admitted that I still like to jump in them.  I told her of a time my parents babysat. When we got home, my mother apologized for the girls messy clothes because my father had played in the storm puddles with them. I told my Mom it was okay. I thanked my Dad. I wanted that for them.

We  discussed a coming of age movie that we had both seen.

Cristina had a book with her and told me she liked reading about Medeival times – books like Ex-caliber.

We had to wait for our reserved room but before we walked in, Cristina told me about the number seven. It has a lot of significance for her, especially recently. Seven gifts. July 7. Seven colors in the rainbow. 4-2-1, the address in the movie she’d watched too! I should have told her that whenever I pump gas, I make sure the total sums to seven.

We spent our remaining time looking at a map and giving each other directions: down, first right, second left, follow, next to, points of reference. We learned from the streets of our paper city.

To summarize our session in a different way:

– I don’t mind if our time together goes well over the planned hour.

– Cristina makes me feel younger and happy.

– She pulls me in the right direction in this world.

– We are together at 7:00 on Thursday night’s.



Wise Cristina’s blog includes music, movie reviews and some of her views on life.

It’s worth translating if you don’t read Spanish:



[12 weeks into 1×1 English tutoring:  the evolution from teacher to student.]

Cristina AND I met at the library BUT we were both really tired. TO ADD TO THAT, her thyroid was going crazy PLUS she needed vitamins.  Cristina had brought a list of conjunctions and other phrases that join sentences. DESPITE just getting over the flu, she was ready to speak fluid English for an hour.

We caught up on not just our week BUT the emails we’d exchanged. We talked about the emails using the conversation reference she’d brought. I suppose our relationship is branching out a bit. SO MUCH SO that we told each other about our men.

She is sending seven gifts to her new man friend in Spain.  They are very creative BUT I won’t tell you here. That’s Cristina’s story. THE POINT IS,  she was able to explain the goal, humor, timing AND every item and plot twist in well-spoken English. It was a wonderful feeling  knowing she was sharing with me, has a similar sense of humor and creativity AND is finding her way in the English language.

I don’t  quite remember how much I told her about my man. Richie would have  laughed knowing I tried to talk technology at one point though. We translated the “input device” she drew for me. I told her it was referred to as a flash drive OR memory stick.

TO SUMMARIZE, we talked about a lot of things: her blog, movies, music, medicine and Indians. It’s becoming less about the lessons AND more about the conversation. She had told me about the gifts she was sending home BUT she is a gift to me.  THE POINT IS, we were both tired but I won’t  tire of her any time soon.