School District teaches adults English
Park City likely has a higher concentration of exotic languages spoken than in most cities in the state. But to some of these speakers, the most exotic, or at least the most problematic language spoken in town may be English.
There is help for adults wanting to learn English. The Park City School District offers English as a second language classes twice-per-week throughout the school year.
Judy Tukuafu, the Director of Community Education for the Park City School District said that people attend classes for a variety of reasons, such as better job opportunities or simple communication skills, which could mean the difference of life or death in an emergency. Some students want to be able to communicate with their children’s teachers.
"We really hope these classes help their standard of living and increase their confidence," she said.
Tukuafu, who has traveled extensively and spent three years in the Peace Corps, said, "I really know what it’s like to be the person who isn’t understood." If someone does not understand a language, they may be labeled as lacking in intelligence, which is often far from the truth. They may simply not speak English. Tukuafu has spent time in Guatemala and in Tonga, where she met her husband, who is Tongan.
English is no easy language to learn. The spelling is hard. There are words like their and they’re. And then there are the idioms and slang. Tukuafu grabbed a magazine, pointing out on the cover, a team that "choked," and "the art of the mug shot,"
English students Zuzana Jurascikova and Frantisek Kapralik, are from Slovakia. They are physical education teachers in Slovakia, but have taken local jobs as housekeepers because of language barriers. Now in the advanced English class, they hope to get better jobs, perhaps as lifeguards, they said. Their conversational English is good.
Students can register prior to any class for a $20 fee, good for the entire school year. The tuition fee includes a text book. Students are placed in one of four classes, depending on their English skills. Tukuafu said that any funds to supplement the program are adult education funds, and do not affect the school district budget.
Jordan Erickson, an administrator and coordinator for the ESL program, said most kids learn to speak English from school, but it is their parents who often can’t understand it.
ESL teacher Kayla Dakota has been teaching ESL in the Park City schools since 2001. She said the clientele that comes to Park City has higher expectations of workers and the workers find it beneficial, if not essential to learn English.
Dakota, who is teaching the beginning level of English, said she has had students from Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Sweden, with the majority of students from Latin America.
Jordan Erickson, coordinator and administrator for the ESL program, said that most people come to improve their abilities in English, get a better job and some come to prepare for their GED, to attain a high school diploma.
Tukuafu said teachers test students to place them, and measure their progress. Tests, both oral and written, are given often, with results reported to both state and federal agencies. Hundreds of students are enrolled in the program, but class sizes vary according to the night. "If they’re here and willing, we’re happy to have them," Tukuafu said.
ESL classes are offered Monday and Wednesday nights at the Learning Center, next to McPolin Elementary School. Classes run from 6:30-8:30 p.m. throughout the school year. All levels of instruction are available. Students may join throughout the school year, and may register any night at the class at 6:15 p.m. For more information on ESL classes, call 645-5600 ext 1447.
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