English as a Second Language – ESL

Joan and I lived in Bellingham, Washington (Watcom County) for about eighteen months in 1985 – 1986. For a time I participated as a volunteer tutor in ESL classes conducted by the Watcom Literacy council.

Most of the students had passed through refugee camps in southeast Asia. They had acquired a rudimentary ability in English. Although few, if any, tutors knew a scrap of the student’s native language, we were able, with the help of sketches and gestures, to communicate. I was surprised how well this worked The students worked hard to learn English. The tutors needed only a bit of patience.

One day I brought my camera to class and took these pictures. One of the teaching devices we used had the student tell a “story” as the tutor transcribed it. I’ve included some of these pieces. Unfortunately, my memory fails in relating the story writer to the photo subject; consider the stories to be randomly presented.


Story by Huong as told to Doreen 11/7/85

Joe camera in class. He took picture of students. The students study English at school. I am in the picture. Many students in the picture. Many teachers in the picture. I like picture.


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