June 2006

Ecclesiasticus 4: 8-9
To the poor man lend an ear,
and return his greeting courteously.
Save the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor,
and do not be mean-spirited in your judgments.

IN THIS ISSUE: Hogar Hispano would like to thank the following donors for their gracious and continued support of the ESL program:

Dollar General Literacy Foundation
ExxonMobil Foundation
Virginia Department of Education
Virginia Literacy Foundation

ESL Staff:

Sally O'Dwyer, Program Director
sodwyer@ccda.net, x222

Larissa Jackson, LEAP! Site Coordinator
ljackson@ccda.net, x245

Tess Manicke, Evening ESL Program Coordinator
tmanicke@ccda.net, x251

Jeff Michno, EL/Civics Program Associate
jmichno@ccda.net, x250

Jodi Nemser-Abrahams, Citizenship Now! Grant Manager
jnemser@ccda.net, x235

Belle Penaranda, Associate ESL Coordinator
bpenaranda@ccda.net, x239

Christine Roach, English ETC Grant Manager
croach@ccda.net, x238

Phil Spencer, Associate ESL Coordinator
pspencer@ccda.net, x243

 Hogar Hispano
6201 Leesburg Pike
Suite 307
Falls Church, VA 22044
(T) 703-534-9805
(F) 703-534-9809

If you would like to have this newsletter sent to a different e-mail address or if you would like to unsubscribe from the mailing list, please e-mail bpenaranda@ccda.net.

Happy summer to all of you! We hope you are kicking up your feet and relaxing a bit after a year's worth of teaching. You deserve it!

We want to send out a special thanks to all the volunteers who have graciously decided to go the extra mile and keep teaching throughout the summer. Thanks to them, we have over 300 students continuing to learn English at Christ the Redeemer in Sterling, All Saints in Manassas, St. Rita's in Alexandria, and the Hogar Hispano office site. None of this would be possible without you-- thanks for being troopers!

Lastly, please take a few minutes now to register for this summer's Adult English Literacy Providers of Northern Virginia (AELPNV) conference. Not only will you learn so much and meet incredible people in the ESL field, but it's a wonderful way to get pumped up for the upcoming fall semester. We are very proud of this conference, having helped get it off the ground in the previous year with fabulous success. Hogar Hispano staff and volunteers were a force in last year's conference-- let's rally again in August! Details can be found below. Hope to see you there.

Enjoy these "lazy" summer days, and of course, stay safe. God bless you!

Sally O’Dwyer
ESL Program Coordinator

Register for the 2006 AELPNV Conference
The Adult English Literacy Providers of Northern Virginia are at it again! Thanks to the overwhelming response to last year’s conference, Hogar Hispano and other area literacy providers and organizations have banded together once again to put on this year’s conference at George Mason University in Fairfax on August 3-4. The event is a great opportunity to share best practices and learn new tricks from some of the field’s finest. It is also a fantastic way to meet and establish connections with fellow ESL teachers from other organizations in the community.

here for the conference flyer and registration form. Please send your registration form and a $25 check made out to the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia to:

Patti Donnelly, AELPNV Conference
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042

The registration deadline is June 30. Space is limited and will fill up quickly, so don’t wait! Please let us know if you're attending, as this counts towards fulfilling your 10-hour training requirement. We look forward to seeing you there!

ESL program welcomes summer interns
Hogar Hispano is pleased to announce the arrival of three college interns to the ESL program: Liz McCarthy, Joe Petrusiak, and Katie Sherman. All three are eager to use their talents and skills to further enhance the ESL program this summer. Plus, it never hurts to see more young, smiling faces around the office!

Liz McCarthy: I am a junior at Villanova University and a political science major and a Spanish minor. My mother is a Spanish/ESL teacher, so that is how I became interested in this internship. I'm going to Costa Rica for a semester next year so hopefully I will use a little Spanish this summer to refresh my memory. A lot of people don't know that I am allergic to cats and I just recently donated a foot of my hair!

Joe Petrusiak: I am a student at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. At Mary Washington I studied Spanish, and as of now I am completing the university’s teacher licensure program. This fall I will be student teaching at a high school in Stafford County. I am very excited to be able to work at Hogar Hispano because it will be such a great experience for me. ESL teachers have a lot of talent for teaching foreign language, and I am sure that I will learn a lot from the people I will work with this summer. I am also very happy to be able to help the immigrant community in Northern Virginia.

Katie Sherman: I will be entering my third year at the University of Virginia this fall, where I am studying English Literature and Studio Art. I hope to eventually pursue a career as an author or illustrator. However, I first look forward to teaching ESL overseas. This passion for other cultures and the exchange of knowledge has brought me to work at Hogar Hispano this summer. I'm excited to learn what goes on at a non-profit organization and I'm hoping my experience here will help me when I teach ESL in the fall.

Virginia announces average hourly value of volunteer time

So, volunteers of Virginia, what are you worth to us? Well, about $21.72/hour, as a matter of fact. Even more than you’re worth to the rest of the country—- a measly $18.04/hour. Of course we don’t look at you in terms of dollar signs. Rather, we look at you as the generous individuals who make the ESL program a reality.

Nonetheless, in this reality of dollar signs, it is interesting to know your hypothetical worth on the payroll. According to the Economic Information Services Division of the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC)-- wow, thank goodness for acronyms-- the 2006 Virginia average hourly value of volunteer time is $21.72/hour. That figure accounts for minimum wage positions on up through the ranks of professionals, such as doctors and lawyers. Of course, we hold you in regards high above the rest!

Compare the Virginia figure with the national average of $18.04/hour, as calculated by Independent Sector (IS), and you’re sitting pretty! The only thing the nation as a whole has on us is a lesser need for acronyms.

Crunch some numbers and you’ll find that your semester worth (as a volunteer corps of 300) adds up to a whopping $781,920! Details aside, that’s just a tad outside the scope of Hogar Hispano’s staff budget. Finally, proof that it’s not an overstatement when we say, “This program depends on you!” So, a big $21.72/hour thanks to... wait... no. Neither VEC nor IS could calculate the worth of the thanks we’d like to extend to you. You are priceless!


Teaching Vocabulary

Visuals, Visuals, Visuals

New teachers often ask, “How can I teach students anything if they don’t understand me?" The answer is with visuals. Visuals can include a simple chalk drawing, an index card with a magazine picture pasted on it, a poster, a photo, an object, an action that you perform—- anything the students can see to help them guess the meaning of the words you are teaching. Flash cards, with the word written on one side and its picture on the flip side, are great because students can use them to quiz each other.

Students should be taught words that are related. For example, teach the words for body parts together. Visuals should be clear and simple. When talking about the family, draw pictures of your family on the board or bring in photos of them to pass around. After all, everyone loves to talk about their kids! Teach simple vocabulary by saying, "This is a pen" and holding up a pen. By using structured exercises and visuals, your class will begin to understand. From here, you can go in many different directions. For example, you can pass the pencil to a student and ask, “Who has the pencil?"

However, be very careful not to go into many directions with the new vocabulary or introduce too many new words right away. Students cannot learn too many new words in one class. Beginners should only learn a maximum of 10 or 12 words per class. Adjectives related to color, size, quantity, and location can be added as students learn. Plan activities that will provide students with the opportunity to practice these words in class after you have introduced them.

How to Introduce Vocabulary

Step One: With books closed, hold up a picture (from a magazine, newspaper, etc.) or better yet, bring in the actual item. Hold up the picture/item, and say its name. Have the class repeat after you until they are able to do so easily. Go through all the vocabulary using this method. We do not recommend more than 8 to 10 words.

Step Two: Hold up the pictures/items randomly, and ask the class a “yes" or "no” question. “Is this a _____?”. The idea is simply to elicit a "yes" or a "no" from the class. Try to trick them by sometimes saying the wrong word for the item.

Step Three: Hold up pictures/items randomly and ask an “or” question. “Is this a _____ or a _____?" The students will answer the correct word. They are progressing from answering “yes" or "no” to saying the actual word.

Step Four: Hold up pictures/items randomly and ask, “What is this?”. Students now progress to producing the word on their own.

Step Five: Teach the written word by writing the word of the item on the board. Point to the word, and have the students repeat after you. Continue until all the words are listed on the board. Point to words in random order (better still, ask a student to do this for you) and have the class read the word in unison until everyone is comfortable with the new word.

Step Six: Reinforce the vocabulary you taught with activities such as Match Up, Tic-Tac-Toe, Bingo, Hangman, Wheel of Fortune or Circle it.


Liz MacLaughlin
High school intern at Hogar Hispano

Liz MacLaughlin, the youngest of the Hogar crew at 17 years old, began interning with Hogar in February of this year. She found this volunteer opportunity through her father, Ted, who taught at Hogar’s Lubber Run ESL program years ago. As a junior in high school, she wanted to work more closely with the immigrant population, practice her Spanish, and do some good for the community.

According to Liz, her goal-oriented character has been highly shaped by her school, H-B Woodlawn, in Arlington County. H-B Woodlawn is a magnet school structured around non-traditional methods of learning. The students are encouraged to self-direct their learning and seek out subjects that interest them. Classes are often centered around current issues and topics, including the recent immigration reform issue. In fact, Liz, along with other students and faculty, have become very politically active by attending the recent rallies centered on immigrant rights.

A few of Liz's favorite things

Book: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. "The book is eloquently written with a highly original storyline. It is laced with beautiful morals and the characters are relatable despite the strange circumstances they are put in. The book exposes the reader to a different type of world filled with fear and loathing, as well as trust and loyalty."
Sport: Skiing. "Every winter I go with my family to ski. I love it because it is good exercise, but not terribly tiring. I've been skiing since I was five years old, and pretty much stopped improving a couple of years ago, but I still find it extremely relaxing and look forward to it every year."
Vacation spot: Outer Banks in North Carolina. "My family has been going there since I was born, and I absolutely love the ocean. I love the heat, I love the sand, I love the water. I even love the smell of the place."
Year of school: This year. "I'm a junior, and although the work load has increased significantly, I feel like I've really found myself. This year I've become a lot more independent. I'm much more comfortable in my own skin, and I really love being busy most of the time. I work a lot more and find that having free time is a lot more rewarding now that I don't have as much of it anymore."
Hobby: Running. "Almost every night I go for a long run, and find that I feel so much healthier. Running is a great way for me to clear my head or have some alone time to think. I've always been a pretty active person, and running helps me harness my energy and use it in good ways."

Liz credits her motivated and goal-oriented attitude primarily to her high school. Although H-B Woodlawn seems to breaking the mold in the Arlington school system, it has helped her grow into a confident young woman aimed at making progressive change in the world. Her experiences at Hogar Hispano have led her to think about pursuing international relations and Spanish when she attends college in fall 2007. She also wants to continue to learn and spread the word about immigration reform in any way that she can.

Thank you for all your help this year, Liz! You have certainly helped make a difference in this community.

Do you know a fellow volunteer who has gone the extra mile? We're looking for individuals to spotlight! Please e-mail Belle at
bpenaranda@ccda.net with the volunteer's name and 2-3 sentences stating why we should spotlight him or her!


By Jodi Nemser-Abrahams, Citizenship Now! Grant Manager

Ofelia came to Hogar Hispano with the dream of one day becoming a United States citizen. She immigrated from Guatemala in 1988 with her four-year-old son in tow. Once here, Ofelia settled in Falls Church, Virginia and started making a life for herself. She gave birth to two more children and found a job at a local drycleaner. After 18 years of living, working, and raising a family in the United States, Ofelia felt at home here. However, merely feeling at home in America was not enough; Ofelia wanted to be an American.

To achieve her dream of citizenship, Ofelia enrolled in Hogar's combined citizenship-preparation and English as a Second Language class, Citizenship Now!. Ofelia was a diligent and determined student, set on improving her English and learning about the United States. When she was ready, she attended one of our citizenship workshops, where she received help filling out her application. After submitting her application, she continued to make class a priority in her life.

A few weeks before Ofelia’s interview date, I received permission from the district immigration office to observe an interview (I’d never seen one before). One evening after her class, I asked Ofelia if I could go with her. She was overcome with joy and relieved that I would be there with her for moral support. I was touched and honored that she wanted me to be there with her on the day she would become a citizen of this country.

On April 12, we arrived at the Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Fairfax for Ofelia’s interview. We sat in the waiting room for nearly an hour. Ofelia was extremely nervous and seemed convinced she wasn’t going to pass. To keep her mind off of the interview, I kept her talking about many subjects, including her children, life in Guatemala, her favorite food and her work.

Eventually they called Ofelia’s name, and the interview began. The interview only lasted about 15 minutes, but they were 15 very nerve-wracking minutes, especially for Ofelia. The examiner asked Ofelia a few questions about her application, gave her an English reading and writing test and a United States history and government test. Then he gave Ofelia a piece of small piece of paper and told her that she had passed her test! The only thing left was to make it official by taking her oath. He referred her to the room and time written on the paper, told her congratulations, and sent her on her way.

Ofelia was in complete shock. She was so sure that she wasn’t going to pass that she shook me and said in disbelief, “What?! Are you serious? I passed?” As it started to set in, she burst into tears of joy. As I gave Ofelia a congratulatory hug, my eyes also started to water. I was so proud to witness such an important event in her life. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for her oath. She told me afterwards that after she took her oath, she registered to vote and then went straight to the post office to fill out a passport application.

Deciding to become a citizen of the United States is one of the biggest decisions a person can make. Frequently it means giving up citizenship in his or her native country. It means that he or she finally will be able to participate in the government and not just be subject to its policies. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to watch people go through the process of becoming a United States citizen, and I will never forget the look on Ofelia’s face when she learned that she had passed her test.

In the last year, more than 250 students have enrolled in the Citizenship Now! program at Hogar Hispano. Of those, nearly 20 have passed their citizenship tests while enrolled in the class. All of these students said that they felt prepared for their interview. They, unlike many applicants who do not take a preparation class, were not caught off-guard by unexpected questions or tests during their interview. Citizenship Now! helps students like Ofelia turn a dream into reality.


By Amy White, volunteer teacher for English ETC at Hogar Hispano

I started teaching at Hogar Hispano in January. When I first moved to DC from Mexico City, I was looking for a way to continue helping the immigrant community. Many of my friends told me that Hogar Hispano was the place to go. And were they ever right! I was first so impressed not only with the size of the program but also with the detail, effort, and enthusiasm of all Hogar’s teachers and staff alike! It has been such a rewarding experience and my class is definitely the highlight of my entire week. The students that we work with are eager to learn and are extremely appreciative. I’d like to say that I’m there selflessly to help others but honestly, it gives me the most wonderful, warm and fuzzy feeling!

Hogar Hispano is dedicated to offering superb English instruction as apparent through the teacher development training sessions. I was actually given the opportunity to conduct one of these workshops and think that teachers really took something valuable from my presentation with them. Volunteers learn from others as encouraged by the observation of fellow team teachers and the ESL Boot Camp. While in Mexico, I completed a TEFL course and have many years of experience teaching all levels of English and Spanish – and I’m still continually learning new “tricks” that make me a better teacher! I look forward to continued growth as an ESL instructor and as always, thank you for making it possible for these students to learn English!


Speak out on justice for immigrants

Immigration Links
Source: Just News (Office of Justice and Peace, Diocese of Richmond), March 2006 edition

Church Documents

U.S. and Mexican Bishops, Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, 2003. http://www.usccb.org/mrs/stranger.shtml

U.S. Bishops, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity, 2000. http://www.usccb.org/mrs/unity.shtml


USCCB Migration and Refugee Services

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

Catholic Migrant Farmworker Network

National Immigrant Forum

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

On December 16, 2005, the House of Representatives passed Bill 4437, otherwise known as The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005. This bill, among other provisions, requires up to 700 miles of fence to be built along the US-Mexican border. It also provides that having illegal status in the United States or housing illegal immigrants would be considered a felony, adding it to a list of offenses which includes aggravated assault, arson, burglary, and murder. This bill would also make it punishable to assist illegal immigrants to remain in the United States, which could encompass social services, food, clothing or shelter. The Senate passed a bill called The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (S. 2611) this past May 25th. While this bill is a step in the right direction, as it provides a path to citizenship, it still has harsh enforcement stipulations that need to be improved upon.

While we would all like to think that our elected officials make legislation because it is the right thing to do, the truth of the matter is they make legislation according to pressure they feel from those who put them in office. Congresspersons only know what issues concern their constituents if we let them know. As citizens of a democracy, it is our civic duty to voice our concerns about these important issues to elected officials, whose duty in turn is to represent the opinions of his or her constituents. It is our moral duty to give voice to the voiceless in our society—- the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are some of the most marginalized. Immigration reform legislation is something that affects all of us, and Congress needs to know that it is important for the laws that are passed to reflect the dignity of every human life, regardless of race, ethnicity, or country of origin. One phone call or letter is a step towards this goal, and many can make the difference! Please visit
this website for your elected officials' contact information.

Know the facts about unfair employment practices

Hogar Hispano, in conjunction with the United States Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), provides workshops to both employers and employees to help understand and comply with the Immigration and Nationality Act. Ways in which we can help are as follows:
  • We explain what documents are acceptable for employment eligibility purpose, and describe the I-9 Form process.
  • We provide informational materials to employers about their rights and responsibilities under the law to help them avoid discrimination practices.
  • We assist employers and employees with questions regarding discrimination in the work place.
If you suspect that you or one of your students have been denied employment because of appearance, accent, national origin or immigration status, please call the OSC workers hotline at 1-800-255-7688 or Freshta Nawabi at 703-534-9805 x241 for assistance. Employers can call the OSC hotline at 1-800-255-8155.

Volunteer opportunities at Hogar Hispano

It is never too early to start recruiting for the ESL fall semester! If you or anyone you know is interested in helping the immigrant community and truly making a difference in other's lives, please sign up to volunteer! Opportunities include teaching, conducting outreach around the community, designing our scrapbook, writing articles for the newsletter, data entry, and many more. To learn more about these special opportunities, please attend a future orientation at the Hogar office (6201 Leesburg Pike, Suite 307, Falls Church, VA 22044):

Saturday, July 15, 10-11 am
Thursday, July 20, 7-8 pm
Saturday, August 5, 10-11 am
Wednesday, August 9, 7-8 pm
Saturday, August 19, 10-11 am
Thursday, August 24, 7-8 pm

To attend a session, please e-mail Belle Penaranda at bpenaranda@ccda.net.