The basic definition of ESL (English as a Second Language) classes is simple: they are educational programs that provide students with the ability to work with a bilingual teacher to learn English. Because we live in a multicultural community, programs for individuals to learn English are incredibly important for success both economically and socially.
The Matthews House offers the unique opportunity of free ESL courses with a trained professional to help students learn necessary language skills to navigate life in our community and culture. The classes provided through The Matthews House are more vocational in nature, focusing on building skills that instill confidence and help participants thrive in the workplace, instead of taking a strictly academic approach.
Our resident ESL teacher, Jenny Stetson Strange, has an extensive background in teaching English. She obtained her Master’s degree in ESL teaching and has experience teaching English in several different countries. She recognizes the challenges involved with learning a new language and tries to make her classes as engaging as possible by using games, activities, and interactive methods to help inspire learning.
Many of Jenny’s students attend because in their workplace, learning English can give them an advantage. Speaking English can lead to promotions, as has been the case for several students already. An aspect of this is being confident in the skills they are gaining. Studies show that self-esteem plays an important part in the learning process. High self-esteem motives students to perform actively, while low self-esteem does the complete opposite.
“When she started around a year ago, she didn’t know a word of English. Now every time that we speak together in English, I know exactly what she is saying. She can also read and write in English. Her progress has been amazing to watch and I’m so proud of her.”
– Jenny Stetson Strange, of a current student
Jenny’s approach to teaching ESL has two foundational aspects: making it fun and building relationships. Building relationships with the students plays a huge part in their continued success. Jenny has close relationships will all of her students and this encourages them to work hard, as well as continue coming to classes. She often visits her students’ homes with her husband, eats with them, and is invested their lives. These relationships help the learning process by creating a bond between Jenny and her students. In the end, according to Jenny,
“Love is what teaching is all about.”