Archive for October, 2012

What did you do on Saturday?

This past Saturday, October 20th and the previous Saturday, October 13th, ten of our lovely volunteers came out to the Loudoun Literacy Council’s Fall Session Training! Training was held in the LLC office in Downtown Leesburg. The volunteers spent their day with our Adult Literacy Program Director, Claudia Wood, LLC former Executive Director, Candace Kroehl, and Susan and I, the two AmeriCorps Members!

Day 1 of training focused on adult learning styles, cultural diversity, realia in the classroom, among other great topics. We also introduced an Immersion Experience to our volunteers with the help of one of our former volunteers. Speaking in a Nigerian language, she taught the class numbers, simple words such as boy and girl, and the Nigerian alphabet. What an experience! We were all so impressed by her teaching skills and we could grasp what it felt like to be a non-native speaker in an ELL classroom, totally foreign to the language that is spoken and the frustrations as well as the accomplishments felt by our students.

Day 2 or training focused on the intricate details of lesson planning, the curriculum used in the classroom, various resources to guide teachers and tutors, and games used in the classroom. Susan and I were able to explain games that we have used in the classroom that have engaged our students while also enabling them to grasp the concepts fully. Later on during the day, volunteers were asked to partner up and work on a lesson plan for the classroom. We gave our volunteers topics such as family, clothing, calendars, and checks. The volunteers really enjoyed sharing what they drafted with their peers. The volunteers came up with many creative ideas and great activities for the classroom!


The Teacher/Tutoring training was a great success! We have had many of our volunteers from training observe one of our ELL classes and many have expressed interest in becoming a teacher assistant in the classroom!

The Adult Literacy Program sends a great “Thank You!” to the individuals who came to two all-day training events with smiles on the faces and plenty of engaging questions and comments.

We would also like to congratulate the following individuals for successfully completing the Fall Teacher/Tutoring Training:











– Carrie Robinson, AmeriCorps Member 2012-2013


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Over the past few weeks, Susan and I have had the pleasure to meet so many wonderful students eager to get into the classroom and learn English, but one student, in particular, stood out for us. His name is Young Bong Yun and he is from Korea. Yun Young Bong has been with Loudoun Literacy for over 1 year and has been sharpening up his English skills with is tutor, Patrick Vroom. When talking with him, he expressed so much gratitude towards Patrick and said, “Loudoun Literacy has helped him improve his English in the workplace and in social conversations.” He mentioned, with a smile on his face, “that he loves to talk to strangers so he can work on his English speaking skills.”

Yun Young Bong also mentioned that he wrote a piece about learning English and wished for us to share his writing with our volunteers, students, and community members. We are so thrilled to highlight his work and we are glad to mention that Yun Young Bong is now a student in Donna Cid’s Advanced English Class at Rust Library and he is continuing his English instruction with Patrick Vroom.


Yun Young Bong’s Story

The school system did not help me to speak and understand. I was only taught reading skills. 2007 was my turning point. I bought a book; the title is “Don’t Study English Anymore.” The author studied in Germany. While there he got an idea how to study foreign language. When he came back to Korea he wrote a book for Koreans to study English. The basic concept is to study English just like your mother language.

The first step is to listen to tapes continuously for two hours until you fell comfortable. You keep repeating it two hours a day until you are comfortable listening to it. Then you have to dictate the tape. When you dictate it doesn’t matter if your spelling is wrong just write it down. Once you finish you have to read it aloud. While you are reading you check a dictionary for words you are not sure about. It has to be an English only dictionary! Write down any words you don’t know and also write down the definition. Read the meaning of these words aloud. Next step is to choose a movie you like and you watch the movie until you are comfortable. You dictate the script of the movie. Once that is done you act the movie out just like a play. Mimic the actors and actresses. Look for any unknown words in the dictionary like with the tape. Next choose an article from the newspaper or magazine. Read it aloud until you are comfortable to explain the article to your family and friends. Cover up the article and explain the article to yourself. Look up words in the dictionary like before.

I work at the airport so I have many chances to meet people who are native speakers. I try to find some strangers who will have small talk with me. I read the newspaper so I have some topics to talk about. You can meet people who speak all kinds of English. It’s very interesting because everyone has a different way to speak in English. I was too scared to make mistakes so I was afraid to talk to people. But if you do this practice for six months or a year you will feel better with talking. It’s very important you train yourself and get over your fear of talking with people. Once you start talking to people you will gain confidence. This helped me with both speaking and listening. You don’t want to miss any words from the speaker. You must concentrate to listen to the speaker. It helps make it easier.

I was always good at reading, vocabulary and grammar. That did not mean I could speak or understand fluently. To improve your speaking and listening I think you have to spend lots of time speaking out loud. I used a recorder to record my voice. Then I can tell if my pronunciation is right or wrong, if it is clear or not. That way you can correct your pronunciation. You can do this while doing your speaking with the movie and article exercises.

I think there are no shortcuts to master English. Keep on a steady path, speak aloud, have confidence and passion, and get over your fear. That’s the best way to master a foreign language. I think I have a problem with listening. It’s the most difficult part for me. I try to train my ear, and I use all the materials I can to get better. It’s my weakness so I give it extra attention. You must remember to find your weakness and work extra hard to improve.

Don’t every try to translate any English to your language. Just focus on the English for what it is. In my experience I don’t recommend to watch movies or TV with subtitles. You will focus more on reading than listening.

This method will help you in all four areas; speaking, listening, writing and reading. Speak out loud. I think in school they don’t teach you how to speak. Don’t think about grammar or the vocabulary, just speak aloud. That’s the number one thing. Get over your fear. Be consistent. Every single day you practice. Don’t skip. IT can be half an hour, one hour or two hours just be consistent. You have to look for words you don’t understand in an English dictionary. Never look for it in you own language, even it’s difficult and takes a long time. Remember no shortcuts. Finally try to think in English. Don’t translate what you see and hear in your head.

When I’m in Korea I study on YouTube. I look at “English with Jennifer.” I also look at breaking news English.com. It’s also a good place to find conversation pieces. For writing I keep a journal. To improve your writing skill it’s important to keep a journal. I hope these tips will help everyone to get better at English and I wish everyone luck.

Written by Yun Young Bong

Edited by Patrick Vroom


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This past week the Adult Literacy Program began its’ Fall 2012 term with 11 ESL classes located in surrounding areas of Loudoun County. We are able to serve students with abilities ranging from beginner to advance. This fall our students come from 34 different countries! We definitely have a diverse student population!

We are so fortunate to have very dedicated volunteers who mercifully take time out of their busy schedules to teach our students English 1 to 2 times a week for 2 hours. It is because of their hard work that we were able to have such a successful first week!

As AmeriCorps members, Susan and I teach beginner level classes. Susan teaches at Cascades Library, I teach at Douglass Community Center and we both teach at Guilford Elementary. As Janna posted last year, the first week of classes has been full of new experiences, some of it overwhelming but all of it exciting. Susan and I have met our students and their families and have learned of their varied experiences both academically and socially. It has been so refreshing to step into an environment that invokes so much positive energy and true gratitude. As new ESL teachers we sense the eagerness of our students and that eagerness and willingness to learn resonates with us. We are fueled by our students’ determination to learn.


 The first week of class was filled with “getting to know you” activities, learning the English alphabet, and introduction dialogues. We had the students participate in fun activities such as the “Spelling Bee Game” and the “Alphabet Soup Game”. Both games have the students either spell their name using the English alphabet or come up with words that begin with each letter of the alphabet. If students were hesitant at the beginning of class, they were fully participating by the end!

After each class this week, Susan and I have been sharing our classroom experiences and we both have found that our role as ESL teachers is to make sure that all of our students understand the content of the class and achieve the goals that we have constructed for our class session. We have sensed that some of our students are progressing and understanding the material easily while others are struggling more and are challenged by the material. Our challenge, as teachers, is to ensure that our struggling students are able to grasp the understanding of what we are trying to teach them. For next week’s classes, our goal is to make sure we come up with ways to properly teach both types of students to make sure everyone successfully learns better English!

We will keep you updated on the progress of our students and the progress of our teaching.

Write you soon!


-Carrie Robinson, AmeriCorps Member


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With the help of Loudoun Literacy Council, Jordyn Keaney facilitated a free reading camp this past summer for first and second graders! She has been awarded the Gold Award for Girl Scouts for her work! Congrats to Jordyn! Read more here from the Purcellville Gazette! 

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