Sister offers tutoring services at the click of the mouse
by Kathy Roberg, FSPA
A strong passion for ethnicity has always run through my blood as I have ministered teaching English as a Second Language to Hispanics, experienced Global Awareness Through Experience in Guatemala, and have had wonderful times teaching summer ESL classes to students in Czech Republic. This passion has been reignited in me as I have entered into a brand new stage in my life. And it’s all done with the click of a mouse.
This new life surged when I returned to Spokane last year and began teaching ESL in an adult literacy program. I work with a Ukrainian man, Alex, and a young woman, Radha, from Nepal. These students are present, physically in front of me, and are stepping into the English world as I am stepping into their cultural world.
This past summer’s program of ESL in Prague has seen its end, but as my students and I bid our farewells, “let’s Skype” were their final words. So I have started using my teaching skills over the Internet, using Skype as the tool to connect via video and voice. I am connected to students and arrange our times to do so. When the Skype icon on my computer indicates I have a student online we sit—virtually face-to-face—in conversation. Radha, my Nepalese student, now finds time to Skype me in between her two part-time jobs. One of my Prague ESL students, Tomas, a priest of Czech Republic, missioned in a Czech parish in Toronto, Canada, is driven to learn English so he Skypes and tells me, in his limited English, all that is happening in his world.
When I lived in La Crosse, I taught adult literacy classes to a Hmong man and since moving, I have reconnected with Pha through the computer. We’re continuing adult literacy lessons and I have seen a vast improvement in his reading and writing skills.
Never have I personally met an Indonesian man, Fransiskus, a first-year vowed Savior of the Divine Word, but we have connected through cyberspace. He is presently at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois, and is sending me his essays to be grammatically edited. Through this connecting, empowerment happens.
All of this with the click of a mouse! I have established a multicultural way to empower people who are driven to learn English. The world is big, with so many connections, but with technology, enhancement happens; we are able to enter into one another’s worlds.