Friday, August 31, 2007

Voice of America

This afternoon's Friendly English group divided into two subgroups. Carlos and Edana worked on Auralog, and on the Voice of America SPECIAL ENGLISH website. To quote from the website, "On October 19, 1959, the Voice of America broadcast the first Special English program. It was an experiment. The goal was to communicate by radio in clear and simple English with people whose native language was not English. Special English programs quickly became some of the most popular on VOA. They still are. Special English continues to communicate with people who are not fluent in English. Over the years, its role has expanded. It helps people learn American English while they learn about American life and stay informed about world news and developments in science. It provides listeners with information they cannot find elsewhere."

Special English as a core vocabulary of 1500 words, the narrators read at a slower pace, about 2/3 the speed of standard English.

Particulary interesting is the WEEKLY TV FEED, a 30 minute program of news, arts and culture. As the broadcaster reads, captions appear on the screen. You can watch this week's program by going to the VOA Special English page:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Other Citizenship Classes/Otras Clases de Cuidadania

There are a number of places, in or near Brentwood, that offer preparation classes for U.S. citizenship.
Hay varios lugares, en/cerca de Brentwood, que ofrecen clases de cuidadania.
BOCES 631-549-4900
BOCES/GRASP 631-234-3764 (Programa para estudiar en casa)
Brentwood Senior High School 631-434-2204
Suffolk Community College/Exam Prep 631-451-4000
Adelante of Suffolk (youth/jovenes 13-21) 631-434-3481 (Clases privadas para adultos por cita)
...and PRONTO of LI offers free consultation on immigration & citizenship on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month.
...y PRONTO of LI ofrece consultas (gratis) acerca de inmigración y cuidadanía el primer y tercer miércoles de cada mes.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Citizenship Classes @ Brentwood High School

Registration and pretesting for Citizenship Classes (Clases de Cuidadania) will be held at the Sonderling Center, 2nd Ave & 6th Ave, Room 2519, Brentwood NY, from 7:30-9:30 PM on September 18, October 2, November 13, December 11. Students must be 21 years or older. For further information call 631-434-2416. These classes are free.

Classes will be held on Monday & Wednesday from 7:00-10:00 PM, dates to be announced.

Passing the Spanish Regents Does Not Indicate Fluency

Great test grades in a foreign language course do not automatically translate into an ability to actually use that language to communicate in the real world. The "Friendly Conversation Groups" at the Brentwood Public Library were started to fill the gap between knowledge of grammatical norms and the ability to effectively communicate out in public.

Our first group, "Friendly English Conversation," started as a once-per-week meeting to practice English in a relatively stress-free environment. People were encouraged to open their mouths and try to converse, to get beyond the multiple choice test level of competency. This initial venture was a slow go! Participation was very sparse, often only two or three people, and one desperate leader trying to keep it going.

That changed when one of our ESL tutors started to bring her 4-6 students to the group. The slightly larger group created a more fertile environment and we began to style ourselves as "a cocktail party without the alcohol." Word of mouth spread and this one group has spawned two others, with a fourth to be added this autumn.

As library customers became aware of our English practice groups, they began to request that we consider other languages, particularly Spanish. We started a "Friendly Spanish Conversation Group" to address this need. Because the participants were divided between those whose goal was maintaining fluency vs. those who needed a basic introduction, we split the original group into a beginning and an intermediate/advanced level.

We now have participants from all four corners of the globe. With this blog we intend to maintain contact with each other and share our common experiences with a wider audience.

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