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North Country Students Learn English Language Virtually

Fri, May 8th 2020 09:00 am

Literacy Volunteers of Clinton County in the news! From NBC Channel 5:


Literacy Volunteers of Clinton, Essex, and Franklin Counties is continuing their classes online, saying the services they provide to English language-learners are essential.

The organization provides one-on-one and group tutoring to people who are learning the English language at all levels. Some students are from the North Country and brushing-up on their literacy skills. Others are from other countries, and learning the English language for the first time.
Executive Director Linda Carela says knowing how to communicate in a new country can be life-saving and barrier-breaking. They help students with filing taxes for the first time, getting COVID-19 information, and even finding a job.

"They look to us, we're their mentors, we're their teachers. We have serious relationships with them and that could not be severed, so we had to continue this work," said Carela.

Ahmed Mohamed is from Egypt, and he has been learning from his tutors for a few months. He is now participating online, via Zoom.

"We need to involve in the community more and understand the people around us more," he said.

The tutors say a community is important to these students, as sometimes coming to Plattsburgh from another country can feel like self-quarantine all the time.

"Together we are helping them help themselves. I think that is essential because they, like us, are feeling the solitude," says Jocelyne Erkenbeck, the family literacy coordinator at Literacy Volunteers.

Carela says the online learning has been an adjustment, as they're working with both students and tutors who may have limited access to technology. They are offering their services on anything they can, including text messaging, phone calls, FaceTime, Facebook messenger, and Zoom.

Dieter Morales is a student from Cuba, and he says he is grateful to have this opportunity continue during the pandemic.

"This program is very important for us," said Morales.

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