The center has offered English language classes in the past but the program hasn’t been operating recently, according to Alice Verney, the MVMC’s English as a second language coordinator. With the help of Kheylita and Kheyla Tanner, both of whom have been working with the MVMC for four years, Verney and the MVMC staff are in the process of restructuring the ESL program with the hopes of serving more people in the community.
Being able to communicate in English is important for many reasons, said Kheyla Tanner. One reason is that people interested in applying for citizenship are required to fill out forms and take the tests in English.
“The Latino community needs a professional program to help do that,” she said.
Those who have not learned the English language may also experience significant barriers in the U.S.
“They end up isolated within the community,” she said. “It can also make it hard for them to communicate with their bosses and doctors.”
Many documents are written only in English and while the MVMC offers translation services, Verney said that isn’t always enough. “
You lose the context of the document sometimes,” she said.
Kheyla Tanner and Kheylita Tanner were both involved with the previous ESL program at MVMC, but they said the program lacked a strong foundation.
“It’s been on a roller coaster,” Verney said. “We’re in the beginning phase of trying to create a strong program.”
Part of the plan for building a better program is to hold a community meeting that will serve as a chance to inform the public about the new program and also invite public discussion.
“We want as much input as possible,” Verney said. “We hope people will stop by and talk to us. We want input and feedback to help make the program stronger.”
The staff at the MVMC hopes for a large turnout at the meeting, which will be held Nov. 18 at St. Francis’ Episcopal Church, 250 S. Kane Creek Blvd., at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s important for the community to be there, because we need support from the community,” Verney said.
Verney said MVMC staff anticipates that most of the students will be Spanish-speakers, however the program is open to speakers of other languages as well. The program is also available to both children and adults, although more adults are expected to attend the classes.
Attending classes can be hard for adults, Kheyla Tanner said. “A lot of the people in the community don’t get a good education in Mexico,” she said.
Verney agreed that people can be intimidated by a classroom setting when they don’t have a strong background in education.
“I sense a lot of discouragement in coming to classes,” she said, adding that adults who do attend usually have a strong sense of motivation to learn.
And continuing to attend the classes is important for people to be successful. “You have to be consistent,” Kheylita Tanner said. “You can’t just come once or twice.”
“The goal is to get students through the door but have them leave here feeling supported,” Verney said. “That comes with quality teaching.”
The classes are currently scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. Verney said those times are flexible depending on need. Classes will cost $8 a week.
“Come to the meeting,” Kheyla Tanner said. “Come to the classes. It’s important.”