May 2006

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, x222

Larissa Jackson, LEAP! Site Coordinator, x245

Tess Manicke, Evening ESL Program Coordinator, x251

Jeff Michno, EL/Civics Program Associate, x250

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

Belle Penaranda, Associate ESL Coordinator, x239

Christine Roach, English ETC Grant Manager, x238

Phil Spencer, Associate ESL Coordinator, 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

Thank you for your help and dedication this past year. The students and all of us at Hogar Hispano truly appreciate your efforts. Time has flown by, and I can't believe another semester has come to a close.

However, don't cry just yet! We will be offering classes at some sites throughout the summer-- for example, classes at the Hogar office in Falls Church and Christ the Redeemer in Sterling started new sessions last month and are continuing on through the end of June. St. Rita's and All Saints will be holding classes starting in June. Please see the "ESL Update" section for more details about registration.

Also, we hope that you enjoy the new and improved look of E-nunciations. Please remember that this newsletter is created for you, our volunteers. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any suggestions on how to make this the best newsletter it can be. As always, thank you for reading!

Lastly, as the debate on undocumented immigration continues in the United States, I would like to share this prayer for immigrant justice:

Blessed are You, Lord God,
King of all creation.
Through Your goodness, we live in this land
that You have so richly blessed.
Help us always to recognize our
Blessings come from You
and remind us to share them
with others, especially those who come
to us today from other lands.

Help us to be generous, just, and welcoming,
as You have been and are generous to us.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy summer. We hope you will continue teaching in the fall. Peace!

Sally O’Dwyer
ESL Program Coordinator

Register for the 2006 AELPNV Conference
The Adult English Literacy Providers of Northern Virginia (AELPNV) will present the second annual Adult ESOL and Basic Education Conference August 3-4 at George Mason University. This two-day event is packed with exhibits, educational workshops, receptions and lunches. Expert practitioners from the field will be presenting in-depth workshops, shorter trainings, and focus groups to help you hone your skills in teaching ESL. Many Hogar Hispano volunteers attended this in the past and were rewarded with useful information and new friendships with ESL teachers from other programs. Don't miss this opportunity-- register now! Spaces fill up fast. Please visit the AELPNV conference website for registration information.

Summer ESL classes available
While most of Hogar Hispano's ESL class sites take a well-deserved vacation for the summer, a few just keep on going! Many thanks to the volunteers at the Hogar office, Christ the Redeemer, St. Rita's and All Saints who are sticking around during these hot summer months to teach their eager students. We will start back up again in full force in September! Classes starting in June are as follows:

All Saints Catholic Church
9300 Stonewall Road, Manassas, VA 20110
Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7-9 pm
Duration: 6 weeks
Registration: Tuesday, June 6, 7-9 pm (one day only)
Levels: beginner, intermediate, advanced

St. Rita Catholic Church
3815 Russell Road, Alexandria, VA 22305
Schedule: Saturdays, 1-3 pm or Mondays and Wednesdays, 7-9 pm
Duration: 8 weeks
Registration: Sunday, June 11, 2:45-4:45 pm
Levels: beginner, intermediate


The Adult Learner
By Tom Bello, ESL teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools

These observations are offered only as an introduction, to challenge your own thinking and practice about who and how you teach.

Adults are formed. Their sense of self, their world view, their style of learning are established. Thus adults cannot be forced to learn either the material or the way that I might want them to learn. They are adults. They must be treated as dignified, mature, and competent human beings. Their experiences, their sense of self, their concepts and motivations must be taken into consideration to maximize the learning situation.

Thus it is my job as their teacher to provide a climate for learning congenial to adults. I listen to myself when I teach, and I ask, "Is this the way I would like to be treated?" I then try to treat my students with the respect, thoughtfulness and sincerity that I would want in their situation. My students only lack language-- not maturity, sensitivity, intelligence or life experiences. Indeed, for most immigrants, their life experiences are far richer and more varied than my own. To change their entire lives and to begin again in a new language and culture takes courage and is more difficult than most of the situations I have faced in my life.

Adults are a rich source for learning. I try to use their experiences. I try to give them opportunities to use what they know. Adults tend to want learning that is practical now. I try to make lessons immediate to their life experiences. I try to give them what they need now to feel more comfortable in this new culture with their new language.

Adults tend to prefer to solve problems, to work together to accomplish something instead of merely studying for the sake of studying. However, adults who have the time will usually enjoy doing homework when they feel they are learning or doing something that is interesting or fun.

Thus adults prefer active participation-- to learn by doing. Don't read them the Monopoly rules and then test them on the rules. Let them play the game.

Since adults are responsible for their life decisions, they tend to prefer to be involved in the decisions affecting the classroom. I try to consider their individual needs and goals. I ask them why, what and how they want to learn. As much as possible, I try to involve them in setting the direction and focus for their own education.

Adults prefer a classroom environment that lowers anxiety and a sense of failure, that encourages taking chances and making mistakes. I try to encourage cooperation, not competition. I try to smile and build my students' self-esteem. I always try to be polite, never to patronize. Learning a new language as an adult is potentially humiliating; it is a job and should be treated as such. And don't forget that it can be fun and mutually satisfying to teacher and student!

Grammar: The Evil G Word
By Hogar Hispano Staff

Many teachers wonder how to teach grammar in the ESL classroom. Grammar is the structure of language, and students must possess a basic understanding of this structure in order to improve their language skills. While students can pick up vocabulary fairly easily outside of the classroom, they rely on the teacher to show them the rules of the road inside the classroom—- the grammar. Students often become stuck at a certain proficiency level until they grasp the critical grammar rules that will allow them to reach the next level. As a teacher, you can give students a leg up on language acquisition by including grammar in your lessons.

Unfortunately, Limited English Proficient (LEP) students do not possess the English language skills to understand complex explanations of language rules. Remember those dreadful sentence diagrams your English teachers gave you or those awful grammar rules you were forced to learn? Trying to explain complex grammar rules to beginning ESL students will only result in confusion and students will be discouraged from speaking. While more advanced students can handle some basic grammar rules, remember that they too will appreciate efforts to demonstrate, rather than dictate, grammar concepts.

Show, Don’t Tell!

Teach grammar by demonstrating how language is used through the use of a simple chart to show patterns. By visually demonstrating language patterns so that students can “see” how English works, the teacher enables students to figure out how grammar works on their own. When students are able to formulate a grammar rule on their own, they are more likely to remember it. Once students discover a rule for themselves, verify that rule, avoiding "grammarspeak" (technical grammar jargon). Follow the lesson with guided practice, and ask students to use the grammar in a meaningful way to communicate with each other.
Right: A teacher at St. Mark's uses visual aides to show students the grammar rules.

Grammar is also taught implicitly-- any time the teacher introduces language to the class. For example, when you teach, “My name is...” you are teaching grammar! We do not teach vocabulary in a vacuum by providing students with a mere list of words. Whole language provides context clues that reveal language mechanics. After the grammar is presented implicitly, the teacher can focus on the grammar with an explicit, guided activity. Like anything else, the grammar taught should be appropriate for the students’ needs.

Golden Rules of Teaching Grammar:

Demonstrate a grammar concept to students in a simple chart.

I live in Virginia.
You live in Virginia.
She lives in Virginia.
He lives in Virginia.
It lives in Virginia.
We live in Virginia.
They live in Virginia.

When using a chart, only allow one word to be changed/substituted at a time.

Be specific-- introduce only one new grammar concept per lesson.
For example, if you are teaching the present tense of “to be” (I am, he/she/it is), do not venture into the past tense (I was, he/she/it was) in the same lesson. Multiple tenses/concepts in a single lesson leads to confusion. It is the teacher’s job to provide a focused lesson, where the students can concentrate on a single aspect of the language. Once students have a solid grasp of a concept, only then should a teacher move on to a new concept.

Use your teacher’s guide!
Refer to your teacher’s guide. This book was specifically written for teachers to use in conjunction with a specific student textbook. It is an excellent resource for teachers, so don’t forget to use it! Teacher’s guides offer suggestions on how to effectively present grammar concepts and offer activities for communicative practice.

"Drills don’t have to be boring—- make them fun by using games and creative activities."
Drill, drill, drill
Don’t be afraid to drill! Introduce new grammar orally to the class as a whole enough times so students have sufficient opportunity to hear and repeat the grammar themselves. Students need sufficient exposure to language in order to retain it; most teachers fail to provide adequate time drilling and practicing. Drills don’t have to be boring—- make them fun by using games and creative activities.

Get students up and walking around.
Have students practice grammar in a game. Some good games/activities to use for grammar are: Bomb, Simon Says, Match-ups, Telephone, Long Distance Dictation, Mixed-up Sentences or stories, Playing with Dolls, and Fun with Conjugation. (For more information about playing these games, please contact a Hogar staff member for a copy of the Games Galore packet.)

Teach a new grammar concept more than one way, keeping in mind different learning preferences.
For example, to teach a verb tense, use a chart or a dialogue/role play. Don’t forget to provide an opportunity for students to use the grammar in writing.

Bring in realia (real life items) from home to demonstrate grammar.
For example, when teaching prepositions, bring an item to demonstrate over, under, next to...

Use Total Physical Response (TPR) to demonstrate action.
To teach “I am walking,” walk around the classroom!

Use timelines and calendars to teach past, present, and future tenses.

Limit grammar instruction to low beginners to basic sentence structure, word order and verb tenses.
Stick to the present simple, present continuous, simple past and the future. For more advanced students, find out what they know before you begin.

Try “Find the Mistake.”
Provide students with sentences that contain a grammar error and ask them to find the mistakes. One grammar error per sentence, please.
"He have seven brothers."

Use a song to teach a grammar concept.
You could use the chorus of Michael Montgomery’s song, "I Swear," to teach prepositions or adjectives. You don’t have to teach the whole song, just pick out a chorus:

"I swear by the moon and stars in the sky
I'll be there
I swear
Like the shadow that's by my side
I'll be there
For better or worse
Till death do us part
I'll love you with the beat of my heart"

Evaluate your students carefully for comprehension throughout the lesson to make sure you haven’t lost the students.
Quiz them orally (ask them a question where they have to use the grammar to answer) and in writing (give them a blank chart that they have to fill in). Do not proceed with your lesson if students are unable to employ the grammar on their own. If the students are struggling, try presenting the material in a different way—- use a different teaching strategy.

Provide interactive activities.
Once you have presented the new grammar, give the students an activity that they can do in pairs or small groups using the language in some new, authentic way. Students must have the opportunity to practice the grammar in class. They are unlikely to have a chance outside of class.

Review grammar concepts frequently.
Students need repeated opportunities to use what they have learned in order to retain the material.

Use "teachable moments."
Take time in class to demonstrate how grammar works when students ask.


Jason Re
English ETC at Hogar Hispano

An experienced ESL teacher, Jason chooses to share his time and expertise with the students in the English ETC classes at the Hogar Hispano office. This is Jason’s third semester teaching. He is currently teaching the pre-beginner class, but has also spent some time teaching in the intermediate level. Jason enjoys turning his favorite topics in English into competitive games to engage and entertain his students.

A few of Jason's favorite things

Place to travel: "I tend to go to the Bethany Beach a lot in the summer, mostly because my parents have a beach house there and they are very cool about me visiting. I also try to go to Boston as much as possible because I spent several years living there and all my friends live up there in Beantown."
Restaurant in the DC area: "My favorite place to eat is the Luna Grill in Shirlington, unless I have a hankering for a plate of greasy nachos and a cold beer. Then it's the Cowboy Cafe on Lee Highway."
Sport: "Running. I dig it. I'm not a competitive runner-- more of a plodder and jogger."
Musical group: "Me in my car singing really loud! That's the best music."
Books: Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky-- a modern day Catcher in the Rye. Sad. Funny. Hip. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser-- I was a vegetarian long before reading this book and after reading, it sealed the deal. Whenever someone interrogates me about not eating meat, I tell them to read this book and then we'll talk!

What Jason loves most about teaching at Hogar Hispano is when his students correct his English. To test his students, he often writes out words or sentences incorrectly to see if the students notice the mistake. Without fail, someone always catches the mistake and is sure to point it out. Outside of the classroom, Jason also holds a trivia night at on Tuesdays at Stars and Stripes Restaurant in Crystal City, which many Hogar Hispano staff members have attended. Yet another way in which Jason makes learning fun!

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


Ana*, one of Hogar Hispano's many dedicated students, moved to the United States from Mexico in 2004. She is 23 years old, and like so many of our students, moved here for an opportunity to live a better life.

Ana’s typical day begins with English class, where she enthusiastically practiceswith her teachers and fellow students. She then heads home for lunch, before going to work as a dog walker. She continues this schedule Monday through Friday, and rests on the weekends. She lives in an apartment with another woman, but does not have any of her family here with her in the States. This is hard for her, and sometimes she gets lonely, but she returns to Mexico to visit her family once a year.

Many of our students are in the same boat in that they have left much behind in their native countries to move here. However, they also have much to look forward to and are trying to make better lives for themselves, their families and their children.

Ana realizes that the key to the better opportunities that the U.S. can provide lies in her ability to speak English. Ana is taking her 7th semester of classes at Hogar Hispano. She began classes two years ago in the beginner class, and has worked her way up through the ranks and into the intermediate class. When she first began, she said she had a great deal of trouble speaking English, and that she did not know enough vocabulary to get by. As she progressed through the program, though, she has picked up the valuable language skills necessary to communicate effectively. She enjoys the classes, and says that she really appreciates the teachers who volunteer their time to teach. Her hope is to continue studying English and to someday become a fluent speaker. This, she knows, will help her get a better job and obtain the better life that she has always wished for.

*Name has been changed to protect student's privacy.


Other ESL training opportunities

Teaching Literacy (REEP)
Presenters: Mary Ann Florez and Debbie Jones
Date and time: Saturday, May 20, 9:30 am-1:30 pm
Location: Clarendon Education Center, 2801 Clarendon Blvd, Suite 218, Arlington, VA 22201
Registration information: Call Jennifer Fadden at 703-228-7231 or e-mail
Description: Reading and writing are critical skills for adult immigrants in English language contexts. Teaching these skills to new learners of English poses challenges to instructors. This workshop will focus knowledge and skills that teachers can use to begin to address these instructional challenges. The facilitators will demonstrate effective techniques and and activities, provide important background information about reading and writing, and give participants opportunities to share their successful practices, and provide guided practice in developing lessons.

Five Strategies Guaranteed to Enhance Your Lessons (REEP)
Presenter: Cathy McCargo
Date and time: Saturday, May 20, 10:00 am-1:00 pm
Location: Clarendon Education Center, 2801 Clarendon Blvd, Suite 218, Arlington, VA 22201
Registration information: Call Jennifer Fadden at 703-228-7231 or e-mail
Description: This workshop will examine 5 teaching strategies to improve the presentation of lessons, build clarity, continuity, and comprehension throughout lessons, and provide smoother transitions from one activity to the next.

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 this special opportunity, please attend a future orientation at the Hogar office (6201 Leesburg Pike, Suite 307, Falls Church, VA 22044):

Saturday, June 17, 10-11 am
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