On a street corner in Lafayette a group was debating the sign on a building that read “Mechanics Bank.” Was it a bank just for mechanics? Nah, couldn’t be.
|A bank for mechanics?|
Many discussions such as this one took place on November 12 when Chavez Center ESL students from each of the three levels took their language skills to the streets. Accompanied by teacher volunteers, Phyllis and Cindy, the students set out to maneuver their way through the BART system and schedule. After purchasing their tickets, the students rode to the Lafayette station where they disembarked and set out exploring Mt. Diablo Blvd. before hopping on a train back to Concord.
The trip was a surprise and an excitement for everyone, including the teachers. Cindy was surprised to find all of the students so interested in signs. Street signs, store signs and others were the topics of discussion. “Not a through street” was just one of the many messages that students worked to discern. And why were there clothes in a place called “J&O Bank”? Students also saw this field trip as a chance to ask the teachers some of the questions they have had about English. One student brought up a question about the difference between “we can” and “weekend,” confused by how they sound so similar. Cindy noted how these sorts of questions arise “especially among those who have learned English by listening.”
|Students learn how to purchase BART tickets.|
Overall the field trip was very rewarding with an exchange of lessons among students and teachers alike. Based on this adventure, the teachers held lessons that revolved around the many types of signs they had encountered, as well as a review of the BART map and schedules.
This trip is just one of the ways the Chavez Center is working with volunteers and members to provide a cutting edge, hands on learning experience. Already there are plans for another excursion in February that, like this one, will integrate learning English and discovering local resources.
Did you know the Chavez Center is currently assessing the expansion of ESL classes to reach more members? You can support us in this endeavor! If you are interested in volunteering your time as an ESL teacher, we’d love to hear from you – please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 925-682-8248. We also need your help funding projects like these. Just $100 could fund the expansion of ESL to 30 more students for one semester. Donate here! Thank you for your support.