Tag Archives: ESL

My last days with Catholic Charities

My internship ended on July 31st, and already I have no idea what to do without my class! It was an incredibly rewarding experience for me, and even led me to pursue further internship opportunities with Catholic Charities’ Translation/Interpreting department in the fall.

The last day of class was very emotional for my students and me. We finished off the semester watching and discussing the Wes Anderson film “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and then we all played a slightly confusing yet still amusing game of Apples to Apples. My students all brought food from their home countries, including pad Thai, tacos, and pupusas (a dish native to El Salvador). I brought pizza, of course, a food very close to the American culinary heart.

My class was successful not only because I was able to eat amazing home-cooked foods, but because my students and I grew genuinely fond of each other. For instance, I have plans to attend a potluck with some of my students from Thailand and plans to tutor one of my Brazilian students and his wife in English this fall. What I loved best about the class was how familiar we all were with each other. My students often brought friends and family members to class, and on the last day there were several of my students’ children watching “Fantastic Mr. Fox” with us.

For me, the class was worthwhile both professionally and academically. I was able to practice my Portuguese, Spanish, and French language skills with my students and prepare for future language classes at Tulane. I was able to continue building my teaching skill set, learning how to teach students of varied language abilities and gather more teaching materials to take with me to Latin America when I graduate. But more than that, I was able to develop administrative and programming skills during my internship that I would not have been able to had I been merely an ESL teacher and not an administrative intern. I was given the task to set up a presentation about Adult Education classes in New Orleans, a task that was not easy to accomplish at first. When I first tried approaching language access/education groups in New Orleans, I didn’t get much of a response. After repeated efforts however, I was able to get in contact with a representative from Delgado Community College and bring him to our program site. Dozens of students attended the meeting and I was proud to find out that the Catholic Charities’ ESL program will continue bringing Delgado representatives to our program site because of my efforts.

I would like to reiterate how very beneficial this internship has been for me and how much I have learned through it. I know have more skills and ideas to bring back to Tulane and offer to prospective employers. If I had one piece of advice for future interns, not only with non-profits, it would be to be as proactive as possible and develop positions and responsibilities for themselves. No one will give you opportunities, you have to make them.

I would like to thank Dr. Thomas Allen and the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching for awarding me a summer internship grant and my colleagues at Catholic Charities for accepting me as an intern and making me feel so welcome this summer.

Midway through my ESL internship

Hi all! At this point in the summer, I am about halfway through my internship with Catholic Charities here in New Orleans and I have no idea where half the summer has gone. In my Level 2 class, we have made it through about seven out of the 15 chapters, covering topics such as First Impressions, Work Vocabulary, Job Hunts, and Traveling. I can honestly say that the reason we have progressed so rapidly in the course is because of the enthusiasm of my students. I have never met a group of students (adult, college seniors, or children) that was so eager to learn. In no class at Tulane have I witnessed such perfect attendance (and my students almost never show up hungover!) or so many completed homework assignments.

My students come from all over the world and their personal experiences here in New Orleans vary drastically. Even though the classes take place Uptown, I have students who travel (either by bike or public transportation) from far-flung areas like Algiers and Kenner. Although I know that some Tulane students commute to school, it stuns me every day to see all the students packing my classroom, many coming directly from full days of work.

While it is easy for me to see how quickly my students are progressing on their learning goals, it has been harder for me to identify what I am learning from this internship. Some of what I have learned has been very positive. For instance, I learned a lot about the curriculum building of a Level 2 English class and how to develop students’ conversation skills through class book clubs and political debates. Some aspects of my internship have been less positive. While my teaching experience has been exceptional this summer, my work on the non-profit administration end has been less rewarding. My efforts to coordinate adult education and social services presentations for the ESL program have not been so successful yet, but that might be the result of mass vacationing to the Gulf shore to evade the summer heat. Although I eventually (today!) received a response from one group to my inquiries about adult education in the NOLA community, it has taken persistence on my part and a refusal to give up to get anything done. Despite some setbacks, my internship has been a great experience so far, even on the administrative end, as I have gained more experience researching public/education policy on the internet and in libraries by myself in order to find the necessary information for my students. That in itself is rewarding enough.

Thanks for reading!
Olivia

Learning to Teach: The beginning of my summer with Catholic Charities

Thanks to my CELT Summer Internship award, I was lucky enough to begin an internship this summer with Catholic Charities’ ESL department. I am a rising senior majoring in Spanish & Portuguese, Linguistics, and English who is interested in translation and second language instruction so I was excited to be given the opportunity to work with Catholic Charities. The Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans provides affordable and reliable English instruction and citizenship classes to our immigrant community, to students who come from Honduras, Vietnam, Brazil, Thailand and many other countries (these are just a few of the nationalities in my class!). I first learned about the Catholic Charities English as a Second Language program based out of Newcomb Hall through a service learning component of my Spanish 1020 class.

Beginning as a Teacher’s Aide, I discovered how much fun I had helping students learn English and I began teaching my own class as a sophomore, leading classes until the spring of my junior year. That year, the Latino Farmers Cooperative gave me the chance to learn about the organizational and administrative aspects of ESL programs when they took me on as a Language Exchange coordinator and then as a grant intern. My internship this summer with Catholic Charities represents a combination of my responsibilities as an ESL teacher and as a program coordinator. Over an intensive seven week program, I will lead a Level 2 ESL class as well as aid in program administration and coordinate informational presentations by local community members for the students.

It wasn’t until the first week of class that I formed a clear picture of what this internship would be. When I signed up for the internship, I was very excited to begin leading an ESL class again, especially because I was given the opportunity to teach a level I had never taught before. But I wanted to gain more experience in non-profit management by observing the program’s office manager and aiding her in her responsibilities. Fortunately, my internship supervisor understands what I want out of this internship, and asked me to help her during the program’s registration session during which I administered a survey to incoming students about potential new services Catholic Charities is developing. Experiences such as this help me learn vital professional skills such as communicating bilingually and helping to coordinate a complex event involving over 90 people. These skills could make me an appealing job candidate when I apply to non-profits in New Orleans when I graduate next year. Keeping these goals in mind, I am excited to continue working with Catholic Charities and learn to successfully coordinate my roles as instructor and program administrator over the course of this summer.

Thanks for reading!
-Olivia