While the majority of ANA members were beginning their annual migration back North, the Amapas Neighborhood Association (ANA) began an English as Second Language (ESL) Program for the PoliceDepartment. Based on the conversations between the police and ANA, while we were discussing the new VEA (Vecinos En Alerta) program, the police identified their need to improve their English language skills. The VEA program is Neighborhood Watch on steroids. It allows a trained ANA member, using WhatsApp, to communicate directly with local police officers. Since most Amapas members speak English, helping the local police improve their knowledge of English seemed a way to bridge the gap.
ANA to the rescue!! Viviana Testón, our administrator who previously had experience teaching English and Spanish to second language learners, developed the program. Steve Ross, an ANA member and a retired high school teacher, joined in the effort as a way to improve his Spanish skills and to give back to the community he loves. Wanting the police to be successful, they assessed each officer’s current English language skills. They were expecting to have 15 students. They were surprised to find the first week of classes filled to the brim. Thirty officers attended each of the three-day classes. Was it a success? YES!
As of the writing of this article, there have been five weeks of classes, three days a week with over 90 students. That’s a lot of people! Classes are held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons between 5:30 to 6:30 pm. Each night a different group of police officers attend before working the night shift.
We are happy to share that they are excited, motivated, and open to learning These first weeks have focused on the basics of grammar and vocabulary. Adult learners quickly tire of rote memorization so we’ve included phrases they can use as soon as they leave the classroom. The classes are quick-paced but in a friendly and casual atmosphere. The positive feedback not only reflects upon the instructors, Viviana and Steve, but also upon the entire Amapas community. Why? ANA is making this class happen. This class reflects the desires of ANA’s members to give back to and improve the community in which we live. We benefit from having a police force who can speak and understand us.
Recently, Carol Moore, another ANA member, has joined the class to help in whatever way she can. An extra set of hands goes a long way! We know that as more of our members return from their summer vacations we’ll have more volunteers.
It is a joy to work with such motivated students! We are excited about creating this partnership between the police department and ANA and to improve the community we share.
As many of us know, learning another language is a long-term commitment. We want to continue offering these classes. iI you would like to be part of this project or contribute to its success, please email Viviana at firstname.lastname@example.org.