Non-native speakers of English gain valuable knowledge through weekly workshops
Every week in the Kathryn A. Martin Library in room KAML 213 non-native speakers of English workshops are held for students, staff and community members whose first language is not english.
These workshops have been ongoing since Novembers 2015 according to ESL Specialist for the Academic Writing and Learning Center, Mia O’brien. O’brien has been leading the workshops since she started working at UMD in 2015.
O’brien explained that every week there are varying types of workshops held. They range in topics from how to write academically, basic punctuation rules and verb tenses.
Catalina Campos, a participant of the weekly workshops, shared how the sessions have helped her learn english.
“These [workshops] help a lot. When you are from another place you need a lot of tools and to have conversations to practice english,” Campos said.
The participants of the workshop also gain knowledge through this community about Duluth which are necessary for new residents.
“For me, this is the only place I can go other than my house that is kind of like a small family,” workshop participant Laila Seidakhmetora said. “We can share recipes and places to go. When you first come to [Duluth] you are the new person, and you don’t know where to buy products or where to buy groceries. From this group you can learn such things.”
It was clear the participants of these workshops have found friendships among their fellow classmates. Many expressed the cultural awareness and understanding that each of them have gained through spending time together in these workshops.
One participant, Fangchao Xu, spoke about the friendships among the group.
“We are all friends here,” Xu said. “We come from different countries so I think it is a very good opportunity to learn about different cultures and habits. The group celebrates different special occasions together, go to other students homes and meet other [community members].”
Mia O’brien feels that even though she technically is the leader of the workshops, she walks away from the workshops with new insights into the lives of others.
“I learn from the students every little bit as they also learn from me,” O’brien said. “I had no idea about the cultural backgrounds. I learn about different places, customs and foods just as much as [they] learn about American culture.”
O’brien feels that teaching these courses and made her a person with a “broader horizon”.
Non-native speakers of English workshops are held weekly in KAML 213 on the second floor of the library behind the Writer’s Workshop on Tuesdays 4 to 5:30 p.m., Wednesdays 12 to 12:50 p.m. and 5 to 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays 2 to 2:50 p.m.