Boca Helping Hands offers a six-week Virtual English Course for Speakers of Other Languages ââ(ESOL), called Intermediate ESOL Practice, every Wednesday starting July 21 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. In addition, the The organization has also set up a permanent virtual ‘conversation cafÃ©’ as part of its professional development program to help clients improve their English skills. Both programs currently run via Zoom.
Almost 500 people have participated in the Boca Helping Hands ESOL program since its launch in 2014. The goal of the new ESOL Intermediate Practice Course is to develop fluency through spontaneous discussion. The class will view and discuss videos on everyday topics, participate in writing and vocabulary activities, and learn structure and grammar to improve their English proficiency.
âAs a resource-based agency, it is imperative that we continue to find ways to adequately meet the needs of our community,â said Trina Chin Cheong, Director of Programs at BHH. “This course gives Boca Helping Hands another opportunity to meet those needs by providing engaging and meaningful English learning opportunities.”
This is the second iteration of the class, with the first starting in May with 17 students. âI would absolutely recommend this course, the teachers are very patient and it’s a good opportunity to learn and feel confident,â said Doris Fisher, a former student of the ESOL Intermediate Practice. âI feel more confident talking to people, it has helped me learn new words and my English has improved. “
The volunteer instructor for the next class is Lisa Talley, who is the president of a multimedia consulting agency geared towards nonprofit organizations in her professional life. Talley holds a master’s degree in communications and digital media as well as a TEFL (Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language) certification. She first discovered BHH programming while volunteering with the Rotary Club of Boca Raton, packing food in the BHH warehouse.
In May, Talley began following current volunteer instructor and ESOL course creator, Victoria Navaratte, to learn the ropes in preparation for the July course. Involved with Boca Helping Hands since 2019, Navarrete designed the Survival English (ESOL for Beginners) course which launched earlier this year and has compiled videos and lesson plans for the ESOL Practice Intermediate Course.
âThis program will allow them to develop and practice these skills in a relaxed environment where they can experiment and make mistakes in English without negative consequences,â said Navarrete. âWhen they use their new language skills outside of the classroom, they will have confidence in their communication skills and will have strategies to deal with new situations that arise in these contexts. “
The Conversation CafÃ© is open to all levels and helps students practice English in a relaxed and conversational setting. People can participate as they please to further develop existing language skills through conversations with other students and BHH volunteers. The Conversation CafÃ© takes place twice a week on Tuesday from 5.15 p.m. to 6.15 p.m. and Friday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Participants must register at least 24 hours in advance to receive the Zoom link.
To register for the ESOL Practice Intermediate Course or the Conversation CafÃ©, please visit bocahelpinghands.org/ESOL. Individuals must reside in Palm Beach County and require a personal computer, Internet connection, and Zoom access.
For more information on Boca Helping Hands, visit bocahelpinghands.org.