May 2005

  1. Sally's Ramblings
  2. News Flash! Hogar Offers Summer Session at Falls Church, Sterling, Manassas, Alexandria
  3. Cool Off at the Hogar Ice Cream Social
  4. Lesson Planning: The Keys to a Great Presentation
  5. FUN-Raiser at St. Elmo's a Huge Hit!
  6. Bishop, Catholic Charities Recognize Volunteer Achievements
  7. Citizenship Classes Off to Fabulous Start
  8. Bits and Pieces
  9. About Us

Sally's Ramblings

Dear friends,

Please give yourselves a hearty pat on the back! You are the reason that we are celebrating National Volunteer Week, and we salute you! Every year, Hogar Hispano ESL volunteers give more than 24,000 hours of service to help more than 2,000 immigrants. According to the Independent Sector's estimated dollar value of $17.55/hour, our volunteers bring in a whopping $421,200 each year!

Our volunteers bring to the program great gifts of generosity, determination, a desire and willingness to learn, a strong sense of commitment, and above all a personal dedication to their students.

Here at Hogar, we want to thank you for all that you have done to help your students learn English so that they can improve their lives! You are my heroes, and I simply cannot express in words how grateful I am for your hard work. Your commitment is making a difference.

Thank you for answering the call of Christ to help those in need.

Sally O’Dwyer
ESL Program Coordinator

News Flash! Hogar Offers Summer Session at Falls Church, Sterling, Manassas, Alexandria

We are pleased to announce our schedule of classes for the upcoming summer season, which is approaching very quickly! Since it is the time for rest and relaxation, the semester is shorter (7 weeks, unless otherwise noted) and held in much fewer sites, but that doesn't make these classes any less important. Send any students you know over our way this summer!


Intensive English/Citizenship Classes in Falls Church
Location: Hogar Hispano Office, 6201 Leesburg Pike, Suite 305, Falls Church, VA, 22044. At Seven Corners, Bank of America building next to Sears.
Levels: beginner, intermediate
Registration: Monday, June 6, 6-7:30 pm (beginners), 7:30-9 pm (intermediate)
Schedule: Monday-Friday, 6-7:30 pm (beginners), 7:30-9 pm (intermediate)

Intensive English/Computer Classes in Falls Church
Location: Hogar Hispano Office, 6201 Leesburg Pike, Suite 310, Falls Church, VA, 22044. At Seven Corners, Bank of America building next to Sears.
Levels: beginner, intermediate
Registration: Monday, June 13, 9-10:30 am (beginners), 10:30 am-12 noon (intermediate), 6-7:30 pm (beginners), 7:30-9 pm (intermediate)
Schedule: Monday-Friday, 9-10:30 am (beginners), 10:30 am-12 noon (intermediate), 6-7:30 pm (beginners), 7:30-9 pm (intermediate)

Computer Classes in Falls Church
Location: Hogar Hispano Office, 6201 Leesburg Pike, Suite 310, Falls Church, VA, 22044. At Seven Corners, Bank of America building next to Sears.
Levels: beginner, intermediate
Registration: Saturday, June 11, 9-11 am (intermediate), 11 am-1 pm (beginners)
Schedule: Saturday, 9-11 am (intermediate), 11 am-1 pm (beginners)

English Classes in Sterling
Location: Christ the Redeemer, 46833 Harry Byrd Highway, Sterling, VA, 20164. On Route 7, near the Shoppers Food Warehouse.
Levels: literacy, beginner, low intermediate, high intermediate
Registration: Tuesday, June 7, 7-8:30 pm
Schedule: Tuesday and Thursday, 7-8:30 pm

Grammar Summer Camp in Manassas (6 weeks)
Location: All Saints Catholic Church, 9300 Stonewall Road, Manassas, VA, 20110. From Sudley Road (Rt. 234), turn on Stonewall Road by the Baptist church and post office.
Levels: beginner, intermediate/advanced
Registration: Tuesday, June 14, 7-9 pm
Schedule: Tuesday and Thursday, 7-9 pm

English Classes in Alexandria (10 weeks)
Location: St. Rita Parish Center, 3825 Russell Road, Alexandria, VA, 22305. In Arlandria, near Chirilagua neighborhood.
Levels: literacy/basic and intermediate/advanced
Registration: Monday, June 6, 7-9 pm
Schedule: Monday and Wednesday, 7-9 pm

Cool Off at the Hogar Ice Cream Social

Volunteers enjoyed bonding with another over giant, heaping scoops of ice cream at last year's event

Spice up your classes by learning how to play! We will teach you fabulous games for the ESL classroom guaranteed to make your class come alive, build community spirit, and help your students learn! Come and enjoy ice cream with all the trimmings, of course!

All Hogar Hispano ESL volunteers!
When? Sunday, May 15th, 1:30-4 pm
Where? Hogar Hispano office, 6201 Leesburg Pike, Suite 307, Falls Church, VA 22044
Why? To celebrate the end of the semester with other volunteers, and for us to show our appreciation for YOU!
How? RSVP to Phil Spencer, or 703-534-9805 x243. Respond quickly, space is limited (but the ice cream is not)!

Lesson Planning
The Keys to a Great Presentation

The most challenging aspect of the four parts of the ESL lesson (warm-up, presentation, practice, and evaluation) is the presentation, when the teacher introduces new material to class.

The KISS Method (Keep It Super Simple)

A good presentation must be based on a realistic objective that the students can successfully achieve by the end of the lesson. When creating the presentation, the teacher must keep the day's objective in mind, and only include items that help achieve it-- nothing more. It is easy for teachers to fall into the trap of teaching too much, which may overwhelm and discourage the students.

When planning a presentation, the teacher must consider:

How can I simplify my presentation so that the students can learn most effectively?

Your First Job

The presentation should be focused and controlled. Your job as the teacher is to keep your class a “safe” place for your students to practice their limited English language skills. The teacher must avoid extraneous information, so that the students can successfully use the information they have learned to communicate, even though it may be in a limited way. While vocabulary and grammar taught in previous classes can be mixed into your presentation, teachers should not attempt to teach more than 10 new words and/or one new grammar structure in a single presentation.

Teachers should avoid the following: unnecessary explanations and information (also called “teacher talk”), Spanish and other foreign languages, tangents, off-topic comments, and unrelated trivia from their presentations. It is far better for your students to grasp just one small aspect of English than for them to be exposed to a lot of language that they cannot possibly remember. At the end of the day, you want your students to be able to say the one thing they learned that class!

Set the Stage: Use Visuals and Provide Other Clues

Teachers must ensure students comprehend the lesson! Help students with limited language skills by setting the stage for the presentation. Teachers need to begin their presentations with visuals (pictures, drawings, magazine cut-outs, maps) and realia (real objects), as well as using actions, charades, demonstrations and charts to help students clue in. If you are going to teach a dialogue, you may want to bring in a couple of puppets or Barbie dolls to help the students understand what is going on.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Once teachers have introduced new material, students need ample opportunity to practice what they have just learned. This practice should occur before the activity section of the class. The practice is intended to help the students internalize the new material before they are asked to use it communicatively. To start, the teacher should guide the practice as much as possible until the students are very comfortable with the new material. For example, students repeat what the teacher says as a whole group. Students gain confidence in their language abilities by repetition. Don’t worry about boring them. It is much more difficult to remember new material in a foreign language than in a native language. During the presentation, the teacher should use more than one strategy per presentation to teach the new information. Strategies include: using a timeline, a chart, reading, fill-in-the-blank, mixed-up sentences or incorrect sentences, personalizing the material, eliciting students, and modeling and practicing. This way, students have more than one opportunity to catch on.

Once the students are comfortable with the new material by listening and repeating, the teacher can call on the students as a whole group to answer questions. Next, the teacher can call on several students for answers, and then students can call on each other. The teacher should not move on from the practice session until the students can respond automatically and accurately.

During the presentation, the teacher should focus on accuracy, and in the practice, students can work with the new material to communicate with one another.

Evaluate During the Presentation? Yes!

Check to see if your students comprehend the material throughout the entire lesson—not just at the end of the class. Walk around the room while working with the students. Make sure everyone knows what’s going on. Ask true/false questions and see if they can answer correctly, or ask them to point to the correct answer. Check your students’ body language. Are they engaged?

FUN-raiser at St. Elmo's a Huge Hit!

Hogar held a fantastic FUN-raiser and training at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub in Alexandria this past April. It provided a chance for participants to get caffeinated, win fabulous raffle prizes (including a one-night stay at the Kenmore Inn, a beautiful bed and breakfast in Fredericksburg), as well as learn some presentation tips on the side. A hearty thank you is in order to all who attended and generously donated both their Sunday afternoon and money!

The proceeds will be used by Hogar to buy much needed audio/video equipment so that we can make high quality videos. With this new equipment, Hogar will be able to tape practice citizenship interviews, which the students can watch and critique. We will also use the equipment to create informational and training videos, helping enhance volunteers’ experiences in our program.

We would also like to extend a very special thank you to Nora Partlow, owner of St. Elmo’s, for her generous donations of coffee, snacks, the beautiful space, and of course, her time!

Left: Site coordinators John Odenwelder, Devin Caughey, and Tom Bart deliberate the mysteries of ESL during the training.
Right: Jodi Nemser-Abrahams gets caught up in the volunteers' caffeinated frenzy at St. Elmo's!

Bishop Helps Recognize Volunteer Achievements

Catholic Charities held its annual Volunteer Appreciation Celebration April 17 at St. Thomas More Cathedral in Arlington. The day began with a mass celebrated by Bishop Paul Loverde. A reception followed where several volunteers were recognized for exceptional work. Bishop Loverde and Steve Luteran, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, also shared encouraging statements with the volunteers.

“We appreciate everything you do,” Luteran said. “This afternoon is a special time to honor you.”

The Bishop linked the spirit of service demonstrated by the volunteers to the Gospel teachings exemplified by John’s Gospel where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. “I believe our volunteers reflect Christ as they reach out and seek out all of God’s children,” Loverde said. “What you do literally is reveal Christ kneeling and washing the feet of the disciples. All of us are admirers of your service.”

Luteran cited some statistics as far as the number of people Catholic Charities is serving. He particularly thanked Fr. Donald Howard, Pastor of Christ the Redeemer in Sterling, for opening the doors to us, so that we can teach even more classes. Over 2,300 people are receiving language instruction at over 20 different sites, thanks to the volunteers of Hogar Hispano’s ESL Department.

“We follow the scripture message,” Luteran said, “‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me (Matthew 25:34-36).’ What an awesome thing to hear—that when we serve the poor, we serve Christ, Himself. We hope that as we move forward, you continue to work with us and that you inspire others to come forward as well.”

Citizenship Classes Off to Fabulous Start

Students in Hogar's new Citizenship Now! ESL class are engrossed in their English lesson.

We are excited to announce that the first session of Hogar’s new Citizenship Now! intensive ESL class started at the end of March with enrollment maxed out! This citizenship-based ESL class gives students who are interested in pursuing citizenship a chance to improve their English and start preparing for their interview; it also bridges the gap between Hogar’s ESL classes and immigration services. For those students who are not eligible for citizenship or who are not interested in applying, the class is an opportunity to learn English and become familiar with the United States, its government, and history.

We are very lucky to have a wonderful, enthusiastic group of volunteers teaching the course. With approximately 30 students enrolled in each class, having effective teachers is important. They have come up with all sorts of interesting and creative ways to teach English and citizenship together, including singing patriotic songs, explaining “majority” versus “minority” with a vote on bananas, and finding Christopher Columbus on the internet.

Citizenship Now! meets in the evening Monday through Friday at Hogar’s office in Falls Church. We offer beginner and intermediate classes. Each class session is eight weeks long, and will be running throughout the year. Our next session starts the second week in June (registration is June 6). With the addition of Citizenship Now! to our program, our intensive class offerings have increased by 50%!

Bits and Pieces

ESL at Alexandria Detention Center Under Way
Hogar’s own Phil Spencer has started teaching an ESL class at the Alexandria Detention Center. Hogar started this 10-week pilot program after being approached by Offender Aid and Restoration (OAR), a non-profit organization that assists inmates with education and ex-offenders in returning to the community as productive and responsible citizens. The area jails have seen surges in their Latino populations since September 11th, 2001, due to the increased INS powers that local law enforcement officials have been granted. Many of these new Latino inmates lack basic English skills, which they are in desperate need of to carry out their regimented daily schedules. Phil and his wonderful volunteer Lydia Kraniotis teach an ESL class at the center every Wednesday morning. The next step is for this fledgling ESL program to grow, both within hours of instruction at the Alexandria Detention Center, but also to other jails in need. If you have an interest in volunteering, please contact Phil Spencer at

Jump into Spring with Catholic Charities
Feeling athletic as the weather gets warmer? Join Catholic Charities in two upcoming annual events, the Walk for Life and the 13th Annual Golf Classic! Break a sweat and help a good cause. Find out how to register for these events at their websites-- hope to see you there!

Spring Fashion Tip: Buy a Hogar Hispano T-shirt!
Promote the Hogar Hispano ESL program and make a fashion statement at the same time! Here are just some reasons why you should order one (or fifty!): The T-shirt is 100% cotton and reads, "Hogar Hispano: Serving the Immigrant Community" and comes in small, medium or large. The cost is a measly $7 (plus $3 shipping)-- get one today! Send an e-mail to with your name, T-shirt size, and quantity needed or simply call 703-534-9805 x239.

Sizzlin' Training Opportunities

ESOL Summer Institute at Tidewater
(Sponsored by the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center)
July 25-26, 2005
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA
Registration information coming soon.

Adult English and Literacy Providers of Northern Virginia (AELPNV) Conference (similar to VAILL, VA-ELI, and EXPRESSOL)
August 4-5, 2005
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
For registration information, contact Patricia Donnelly, LCNV at 703-237-0866.

About Us
Hogar Hispano is a non-profit organization that provides assistance to immigrants of all nationalities and religions. As part of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, Hogar Hispano helps newcomers achieve self-sufficiency and successfully integrate into American society by offering a wide range of services at little or no cost. Hogar Hispano offers English as a Second Language classes, legal counseling and representation, naturalization assistance, job placement services, and social services.

We want to know what you think! Thank you for reading!

Sally O'Dwyer, ESL Coordinator, x222

Ken Balbuena, English Literacy/Civics Grant Manager, x238

Jodi Nemser-Abrahams, Citizenship Now! Grant Manager, x235

Belle Penaranda, Associate ESL Coordinator, x239

Phil Spencer, Associate ESL Coordinator, 9/11, x243

Hogar Hispano
6201 Leesburg Pike, Suite 307
Falls Church, VA 22044
Fax: 703-534-9809

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