Saturday, September 29, 2012

Language Skills Key to Personal and Professional Success

RSC's Oweene Stone teaches English
to students from all over the world.
Language Skills Key to Personal and Professional Success

Language is an important communications tool used by people every single day. For those who are not literate in a language, problems can arise not only with communications, but with self-esteem, and personal, educational and financial success.

As the nation observes National Literacy Month in September, Rio Salado College does its part year round by offering free in-person English Language Acquisition for Adults (ELAA) classes.

Currently, more than 1,800 students are taking advantage of ELAA classes.

“The program has students from all over the world,” said Blair Liddicoat, Associate Dean of Adult Basic Education at Rio Salado. “The skills students learn in class range from survival English at the beginning to higher level language that assists them in becoming productive members of society. We instruct them in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.”
Much like coming in from different places, the program caters to those with different educational needs.

“Students come to us with widely varying educational backgrounds. Even those who have many years of education back home may have not been in the classroom for many years. They have to start all over again and learn how to be a student,” Liddicoat explained.
The good thing about the instruction is that although the students have to start again by learning how to be a student, they can do so at their own pace.
“Our adult ELAA students have many personal concerns outside of the classroom that demand their attention,” said Liddicoat. “A student’s desire to attend our class, and the time they can give to the class have competition from all of these other concerns. With this in mind, the program does not give mid-term and final exams. Nor does it assign any formal homework.”

This may sound strange but it serves a greater purpose, a purpose that targets the optimal outcome for the student.

“This eases the students’ minds and removes much of the fear factor of the classroom,” said Liddicoat. “While the program expects the student to learn, it does not penalize the student for not learning as fast as other students.”

Whether fast learners or not, most of the ELAA students at Rio Salado walk away with more skills than they initially had. Liddicoat said he feels it would be quite difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks without having learned these skills.

“Imagine that you lived in another country and could not communicate in that country’s language,” Liddicoat said. “How could you ensure you were getting on the right bus? How could you talk to your children’s teachers? How could you know how much medicine the bottle told you to take? How could you get a job that paid a livable wage and allowed you to support your family and be a proud member of society?”

Given these scenarios, Liddicoat knows Language literacy is very important. With his help, and that of other faculty members at Rio Salado College, the college is well on its way to ensuring the students gain the necessary tools to effectively develop and enhance their Language Literacy skills.

Published in the Tempe Republic Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012.
Written by Rio Salado College PR Intern Erica White