Breaking down the language barrier

January 30, 2014 • Local News

Ann Turner helps Natalie Vail of China study for her citizenship test at the Roswell Literacy Council, Tuesday. (Mark Wilson Photo)

Learning English challenges  learners as well as instructors

Brenda Villegas Gutierrez, 28, moved to Roswell from Cuauhtemoc, Mexico, 10 years ago to join her father who was working in the states and had just completed immigration paperwork for his children.

At the time, she spoke barely a word of English.

“You feel, like, stupid when you go to any store and they ask you something and you don’t know what they say,” she says of her initial frustrations.

She quickly arranged for a tutor through the Roswell Literacy Council, a resource for learning literacy skills and English that she had heard about through friends and colleagues.

Gutierrez has since earned degrees in graphic design and pharmacy technology from Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, as well as made marked gains in employment.

According to 2012 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 12 percent of Roswell residents are foreign-born and 37 percent of residents speak a language other than English at home.

Children who immigrate to the U.S. are usually able to learn English relatively quickly with the aid of special resources in schools as well as the constant exposure to the language that comes with being in an American classroom.

For adults, there are also resources. In Roswell, help with language learning can come from the Literacy Council, the Adult Basic Education program on the ENMU-R campus and conversation clubs at churches and the Roswell Login to read more

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