Leticia Balladares says the skills she learned from an English tutoring program in Merced helped her qualify for a part-time job at Don Stowell Elementary School as a yard duty.
“This program has made me better personally and has helped me get a job,” the 40-year-old Merced resident told the Merced Sun-Star. “Now maybe I can get a full-time job.”
On Thursday afternoon 27 students in the Community Based English Tutoring program, or CBET, received certificates of recognition for the English classes they’ve been attending for about nine months. The program is geared toward Spanish-speaking parents who want to learn English. The program is offered by the Merced City School District.
Along with learning how to read, write and speak better English, students in the classes learn basic computers skills, like keyboarding emailing and web searching. Childcare and transportation also are offered.
This is the 18th year MCSD has offered the program and the only qualification to attend is to have a relative, a child, grandchild, niece or nephew enrolled as a student in MCSD. One of the goals of the program is teaching English to parents so they are able to help their children with their schoolwork and be more involved in their education.
“This program motivates people,” Balladares said. “I’m able to work with my kids and be more involved.”
Now that Balladares can read, write, speak and understand English better, she plans to move on to Merced Adult School for a GED and then hopefully go to college so she can fulfill her dream of being a teacher’s assistant.
“It’s never too late to learn,” she said.
About 64 percent of people in Merced speak Spanish at home, according to the most recent data from the data from the U.S Census Bureau.
The program “increases the connection between home and school,” said Elena Castro, a director for MCSD.
It helps parents become more independent, said an instructor of the CBET classes, Marilu Vega. Sometimes parents come to rely on their children as translators and learning English helps them to do more things themselves.
Maria Consuelo said she didn’t know a word of English when she came to the United States from Mexico at the age of 16. She wasn’t able to only focus on school at that point because she was the oldest daughter and had to start providing for herself.
“I feel so proud of God first that he can give me this opportunity,” Consuelo, 50, said. “I feel more comfortable (speaking English) because the teachers helped me a lot.”
Consuelo said she joined the program to work on her pronunciation and learn how to write in English. Now she and her 10-year-old daughter work together on schoolwork.
“I recommend this to anyone,” she said. “No matter how old they are they can still learn. Don’t get embarrassed.”
She added: “Everyday we have a chance to look out at the world with more security to learn. It’s never too late.”
The next round of CBET classes begins in August.
Monica Velez: 209-385-2486